ST. PETERSBURG -- After staying overnight for further observation, Rays starter Alex Cobb was released from Bayfront Medical Center on Sunday afternoon and headed home.
The Rays placed Cobb on the seven-day concussion disabled list and recalled reliever Josh Lueke from Triple-A Durham on Sunday morning, a day after Cobb sustained a mild concussion when he was struck in the right ear by a line drive off the bat of Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer.
Cobb texted several of his teammates on Sunday that he had a headache, but all of his tests came back negative.
Left-hander Matt Moore was one of 10 to 15 Rays players to see Cobb in the hospital on Saturday night and said the 25-year-old right-hander was in good spirits. Cobb also got a visit from Hosmer and former Rays James Shields and Elliot Johnson. According to Moore, Cobb's first words to Hosmer were, "We got you out."
"It was just cool to go and physically talk to him and see how he was doing. He was talking and there were a bunch of other guys from his team in there and he was laughing and joking, so it was good to see that," Hosmer said. "I was just glad to see he was good, and it just made me feel a lot better to actually see it rather than just hearing about it."
Moore said he heard Cobb tell somebody in the hospital that he didn't remember getting hit, that he could only recall the instant where he saw the ball coming at him. But Cobb was able to take a joke, and Moore and his teammates were able to laugh along with him.
"I told him that we were talking to the league, trying to petition, trying to get him that win since he was so close. He still had that sense of humor," Moore said. "He didn't seem like he was in very much pain. He seemed pretty comfortable at the time.
"I think he was very happy to see how many people that were on the field came to see him after the game. Just to see how many people were that concerned with what happened to him, I'm sure, made him feel very well. Shortly after that, the jokes started rolling in."
Want to say thank you to our All-star trainer Ron Porterfield and the doctors @bayfront hospital. Woke up with only a minor headache today.- Alex Cobb (@Acobb53) June 16, 2013
Seeing Cobb in that state, obviously, came as a relief to Moore and the rest of the Rays. When Cobb fell to the ground, clutching his head, after being hit by a line drive measured at 102.4 mph, they expected the worst.
"I hadn't felt that feeling ever in my entire life, of seeing one of my really good friends, somebody that I care that much about, in that kind of pain," Moore said. "That kind of doubt in not knowing what's going on with him, it sucked. It was pretty bad for everybody.
"It's the scariest part about this game, if you ask me."
Veteran reliever Jamey Wright was in the Rays' bullpen at the time and didn't see the ball scream off of Hosmer's bat and slam into Cobb's head, but he heard the crack that sounded like a ball coming off the bat again. Wright remembered also being in the bullpen when Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ was struck in the head by Desmond Jennings' line drive on May 7, watching the ball bounce off Happ and all the way into the right-field corner and thinking, "Oh my God."
The topic of pitcher safety was discussed everywhere in Tampa Bay's clubhouse Sunday morning, as it was in the days after Happ's injury. While the Rays were relieved that their teammate was relatively fortunate to escape with only a mild concussion, they would prefer to see a proactive decision to protect pitchers rather than wait for something worse to force a new rule into action.
"You just don't think about it, and I haven't seen it a lot until this month, and I've seen it happen twice. It's real," Wright said. "Somebody gets hit in the right spot, it could be fatal. We don't want that, not on our field, not on any field."
Added Tampa Bay first baseman James Loney: "You don't want to see anybody get hurt. When somebody gets hurt really, really bad, then they start thinking about it more."
Moore, the Rays' player representative, echoed his teammates' thoughts and added that everyone in the Majors would express a similar sentiment. While he admitted it might be difficult to introduce protective headgear that would be comfortable for every pitcher, Moore said, "It's not a place I want to be, laying there on my back wondering, 'What if I would have worn something, or what if I could have worn something?'"
Rays left-hander David Price expressed his admiration for Cobb's toughness, calling him a "trooper" for bouncing back so quickly and for telling head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield he wanted to stand up immediately after the liner knocked him to the ground. But, obviously, Price would rather never again see a similar scene unfold.
"Whoever comes up with the solution for this, they're never going to have to work again in their life, and probably generations of their family won't have to work," Price said. "It's scary, it's part of it, we know about it, we think about. You never think about it when you're on the mound, because that will never have a positive outcome, but when you see it happen, you see line drives and hard ground balls up the middle, it definitely does cross your mind."