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.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.