Rays expected to activate Alex Cobb on Thursday

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Out since mid-April with a strained oblique muscle, Rays right-hander Alex Cobb is scheduled to come off the disabled list Thursday to start against the A’s.

Cobb was off to a very strong start before the injury and tossed five shutout innings in a minor-league rehab start Saturday at Single-A, striking out nine batters and throwing 46 of 64 pitches for strikes.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Cobb threw a bullpen session this afternoon that was the final touch to convincing the Rays he’s ready to return. Dating back to last season the 25-year-old is 12-4 with a 2.66 ERA in 25 starts.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.