Cobb: 'Really cool' pitching against hometown Sox

Cobb: 'Really cool' pitching against hometown Sox
April 14, 2013, 9:00 am
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BOSTON -- Alex Cobb remembers looking out on to the sprawling green grass and dreaming of one day playing on that field.

Years later, it is a reality as the right handed pitcher is scheduled to start on Sunday for the Tampa Bay Rays against this childhood favorites, the Boston Red Sox.

Cobb was born in Boston in 1987 and lived in North Reading until he was two years old when his parents relocated to Vero Beach, Florida for work. In spite of the move, the Cobb household was very much a Red Sox home. He was raised a fan of the team, given little option otherwise.

"It was kind of mandatory," he laughed. "It's instilled upon you at an early age, so you kind of have no choice."

With the rest of his relatives still back in Boston, Cobb returned to New England every summer to visit and take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Cobb, who originally was a position player, enjoyed watching Nomar Garciaparra -- "I had the same glove as him, the SSK Nomar edition," he said. Once he became a pitcher, he looked forward to seeing Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling on the mound.

"(Fenway Park) had a historic feeling when you walked in," he said. "I remember watching Manny (Ramirez) hit a home run over the Coca Cola bottles against the Oakland A's."

Cobb began inching his way closer to realizing his dream when the Rays selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 amateur draft. The following year, he pitched at his beloved ballpark for the first time as a member of the single-A Hudson Valley Renegades at the Futures at Fenway minor league event.

"I was still kind of a Red Sox fan even though I was pitching for the Rays," he recounted. "It was very surreal. I did the tours when I was little, so being able to go on my own into the wall and check out all that stuff was something you can only dream of growing up. It was a very nostalgic feeling being on the field, and taking the mound was awesome. It was a beautiful day, I had a ton of family here. I was pretty nervous at first and then it just became a normal game for me. After everything settled down, I realized what I had just done -- I had pitched at Fenway."

Now 25, Cobb has pitched two Major League games at Fenway Park. He is 2-0 in those appearances, striking out seven (as well as walking seven) in 10.0 innings with a 1.80 ERA.

"It was really cool coming back as a Big Leaguer," he said. "It still had that nostalgic feeling to it but I'm trying to get away from all that. You have to get over it and just play."

On Sunday he will look to improve to 2-0 on the season. He is glad his family will be able to see him pitch against their hometown team, as long as they follow one pre-requisite.

"For my family, it's still really cool. They get to come out and they're Red Sox fans," he said, pausing and adding with a laugh, "They don't get tickets unless they wear Rays gear."