ST. PETERSBURG -- After Monday's loss, the Rays announced a move to call up pitcher Alex Cobb and option reliever Brandon Gomes to Triple-A Durham.
Cobb will start Tuesday against the Rangers in place of Andy Sonnanstine, who relieved on Monday night.
In Triple-A, Cobb has been exceptional with a 5-0 record and a 1.14 ERA. But those stats failed to translate on May 1 as the right-hander allowed four runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Angels in his first Major League appearance.
"Minor League numbers don't mean anything now," Cobb said. "Once you get up here, you have to be able to put those numbers out up here. If you don't, you're going to go back."
In his only start for the Rays, Cobb was found to be tipping his pitches with a glove waggle. But that has since been fixed.
"It really was [an easy correction]," he said. "It's just a matter of focusing on it, really. I wasn't thinking about it. I put a little bit of thought into it, went out there and threw some outings, and now I don't even have to think about it when I throw."
On the other end of the move, Gomes' stint with Tampa Bay was short but productive. The reliever, who was called up on May 3, made nine appearances and posted a 2.89 ERA. Manager Joe Maddon said he believes Gomes will be a "very good Major League reliever."
Added Maddon: "I like his makeup, I like his aggressiveness, I like the pitches that he does throw. One of the things we wanted him to get better at was times at the plate holding runners -- he did that when he was here."
As for Cobb, Maddon had some nice things to say about him, too.
"I like [Cobb's] stuff," he said. "He's kind of like a [Jeremy] Hellickson. I would like to see him on a level playing field [when not tipping pitches] to see how he does."
Kotchman's injury unlikely to result in DL
ST. PETERSBURG -- A day after Casey Kotchman sprained his right ankle, the prognosis appeared good for the Rays first baseman.
Head athletic trainer Ronnie Porterfield "said he's sore but not bad," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Not horrible. ... Ronnie said it swelled up a little bit, but not as bad as he expected."
Kotchman left Sunday's game against the Indians in the fifth inning after sliding awkwardly into second base in an attempt to stretch a single into a double in the fourth.
It doesn't look like Kotchman will be headed to the disabled list, Maddon said. "Even yesterday, Ronnie wasn't sure. But kind of leaned toward probably not. Today, saying probably not. It might not be that long of a deal, either."
Kotchman has provided Tampa Bay with a viable option in the middle of the order, hitting .361 on the season. He is also tied for Major League Baseball's highest fielding percentage among first baseman, with a perfect 1.000.
Maddon had been planning to start Felipe Lopez at first base on Monday even before Kotchman got injured, because Texas is throwing out left-hander Derek Holland. If Maddon wants to shore up his late-inning defense Monday night, he will likely move shortstop Sean Rodriguez to first base and insert Reid Brignac at shortstop.
"Sean's very comfortable over there," Maddon said. "Then you put Reid at shortstop and you're pretty firm again. So that may happen."
On Memorial Day, Rays pay tribute to military
ST. PETERSBURG -- Memorial Day brought out a feeling of patriotism as well as several salutes to America's military at Tropicana Field on Monday night.
For starters, Rays players wore special blue hats with a white crown and a red, white, and blue logo.
Prior to the game, a touching video tribute to America's fallen soldiers played on the scoreboard.
Keeping in line with the evening's flavor was a special national anthem performance by bio-environmental engineering flight commander major Michael Smith and former Air Force staff sergeant D'Anthony Forte.
Another video played in the middle of the second inning featuring Evan Longoria, James Shields, David Price and Joe Maddon. Each offered his own heartfelt thank you to those in the military for all that they do.
The final touch came when Air Force master sergeant Harry Bounds delivered a rousing rendition of God Bless America.
Improving Niemann ready for Minor League starts
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jeff Niemann is inching his way back to Tampa Bay's starting rotation.
The right-hander threw about 50 pitches -- mostly fastballs -- in a simulated game against various Rays hitters before Monday's game against the Rangers and said he "felt pretty good" about his performance.
"It was like it was a normal workout for him in the middle of the season," manager Joe Maddon said. "The fastball was real good -- very much alive. Everything was good. It was really very encouraging."
Niemann, who suffered a lower back injury on May 4, feels healthy and is "ready to take the next step," which will come in the form of three Minor League starts. Maddon said the plan is for Niemann to increase his pitch count in each rehab outing, eventually getting to 90 pitches. The dates on those starts will be planned out in order to avoid any changes to the starting rotation upon his return.
"I think with the solid bullpen session today, the trust is definitely there," Niemann said. "That's the most positive thing you can take from all this."
It has been a difficult season for the 6-foot-9 pitcher, who posted a 5.74 ERA and a 1-4 record before he went down with the injury. But the time off gives Niemann an opportunity to start fresh.
"I feel good," he said. "This is [an injury] that you know, from the moment you get up in the morning, what kind of day it's going to be. That's what has been the best thing about these past few days. It hasn't even been an issue for anything."
Florida St. football coach throws first pitch
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jimbo Fisher took time off from his duties at Florida State to take in a Rays game.
The Seminoles football coach brought his wife along with his two sons to Monday's matchup vs. the Rangers. Fisher threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.
Fisher is no stranger to the game. He attended Clemson University on a baseball scholarship as a middle infielder, but left after one semester to play football at Salem College.
"Turned out pretty good," he said. "But baseball is probably my first love. I love baseball."
That passion runs in the family as both of his sons played catch on the field in Rays jerseys. The reason Fisher had the chance to stop by Tropicana Field was because his 10-year-old son, Ethan, was playing nearby with his travel baseball team.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Anthony Chiang is an associate reporter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.