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Jeff Niemann Ready To Begin Rehab Starts

This news comes from Robert Mooney at the Tampa Tribune:

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Jeff Niemann took a big step Monday afternoon toward returning to the rotation by throwing a 45-pitch simulated game. ...

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Niemann, on the disabled list since May 6 with a strained lower back, will soon start a three start minor league rehab assignment that begin with 60 pitches, increase to 70 then top out at 90.

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It sounds as though everything is going according to plan so far, and Niemann is slowly working his way toward rejoining the Rays. Even if everything goes smoothly from here on out, though, he's still multiple weeks away from returning from the DL and likely won't be fully back until the end of June.

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So for now, Rays fans better get used to Alex Cobb being in the rotation. Cobb will likely get at least three starts before Niemann returns, so he has a limited time to make is case on why he should stick in the majors; as much as I'd like him to stick, I don't see it happening unless another starter gets injured around that time. The Rays have money invested in Niemann, and at the very least they need to see if they can get him functioning well enough to make him good trade bait.

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