Alex Cobb to throw live batting practice Sunday for first time since concussion

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Rays right-hander Alex Cobb is ready to make the next step in his recovery from a concussion, as Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune reports that he’s scheduled to throw live batting practice tomorrow.

Cobb has been sidelined since he was hit in the side of the head by a line drive off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer on June 15. The 25-year-old resumed throwing bullpen sessions last week, but that he’s been cleared to throw batting practice means that he has passed all of his concussion tests.

Cobb told Bill Chastian of MLB.com earlier this week that he was still experiencing “a little vertigo randomly,” but it sounds like a minor league rehab assignment might not be far off. While there’s no formal timetable for his return, he has talked about rejoining the Rays’ rotation at some point in August.

Cobb was enjoying a breakthrough season prior to the concussion, going 6-2 with a 3.01 ERA and 76/23 K/BB ratio in 83 2/3 innings over 13 starts.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.