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The Rays Tank: Cobb Needs a Nickname vs Big Game James

The final step in the breakup with James Shields -- seeing him, in a Royals uniform, pitch against the Rays. Sigh.

Rob Tringali

Tonight the Rays begin their series against the Royals in Kansas City, facing off against an old familiar face.

When James Shields was traded to the Royals, the Rays lost the leader of their rotation, and of team stats: wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, games started, complete games and shutouts.

If you're feeling sentimental, take a look back at Shields' history with the team, posted right after the trade. Warning: the GIF at the end may make it a bit dusty in here...

Though the Rays received Wil Myers and three other top prospects in return for the loss of Big Game James, it was still a bitter pill to swallow; but the staff thus far this year has made the transition a tad easier.

In particular, Matt Moore and Alex Cobb have been stellar, and Cobb faces off against Shields tonight. Cobb has proven capable of filling the workhorse role left vacant in Shields' departure, and has posted a 3-1 record with a 1.82 ERA. Shields is currently 1-2 with a 3.09 ERA for the Royals.

Shields admitted his excitement, and motivation, in facing his former team:

"I want to win every single time I go out there, but, yeah, definitely, there's no doubt, man, there's no doubt, I want to beat them," Shields said. "If I don't, I don't. It is what it is. They have a good team over there. They know me as well as I know them, so that should be a very interesting little chess game."

According to a bevy of Rays, tonight's reunion will be "weird, emotional, odd, awkward and strange." Hopefully the team can channel those post-breakup emotions into a win.

Additional Rays notes:

MLB is still looking into the incident with David Price and Tom Hallion, with repercussions, if they exist, believed to be announced today.

Luke Scott should be activated from the disabled list prior to tonight's game, and it looks like Shelley Duncan will be designated for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster.

According to Joe Maddon, both Yunel Escobar and Jose Molina are expected back in the lineup tonight.

Around the league:

In the Marlins 15 inning victory over the Mets, Giancarlo Stanton left in the 10th inning with an injured hamstring and was placed on the 15-day disabled list after the game.

Stephen Strasburg had tightness in his forearm during his start against the Braves Monday, and though he adamantly told the media that he will be making his next start, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said that Strasburg "doesn't look right to me" and was "shaking his elbow more frequently." Strasburg gave up two runs, six hits, walked four and struck out eight in his six inning no-decision.

In the sixth inning of the Giants / Diamondbacks game, Pablo Sandoval left with right elbow discomfort, but isn't expected to miss any time. Sandoval is currently leading the team with 20 RBIs.

Hanley Ramirez was activated from the disabled list prior to Monday's Dodgers game against the Rockies, and pitch hit in the 7th inning.


- The Rays were highlighted in Jonah Keri's "The 30" this week on Grantland, with the team ranking at number 16.

- Yes, small sample size, but the Blue Jays look destined for their 20th consecutive season without reaching the playoffs.

- According to Jeff Passan, the most interesting debate in baseball right now is "bubble or no bubble" with TV dollars and teams.