Alex Cobb returns to the mound today for the first time since May 26, when he went 8 1/3 innings against the Yankees. He developed a cut near the nail on his right middle finger and missed his last start.

“This was much needed,” Cobb said. “I wouldn't have been able to be effective Friday (his scheduled start date) if we didn't take this extra time. It was a smart move, and now I'm definitely ready to get back out there.”

Cobb played catch on Monday afternoon with LHP Matt Moore in a park next to the team hotel and said he was able to throw his off-speed pitches pain free for the first time since he developed the cut.

Cobb said it was just he, Moore and some people having lunch on a splendid early June day. They avoided one mishap when Cobb grabbed an errant throw by Moore that almost struck a man who was walking in the park.

“He thanked me for catching it, because it would have smoked him in the face,” Cobb said. “Behind him was a car, so it would have done some damage.”

Now, Cobb has to battle the effects of going 10 days between starts, something he's fought before when he's gone more than five days between starts.

“I've felt a little bit uncomfortable,” he said. “The plate feels far away, mechanics felt a little out of rhythm.”

How long does it take for him to feel like himself?

“I don't know. It's varied in the past,” Cobb said. “Some days it's been there right out of the gate. Some days it's been three, four innings. There's no telling. Hopefully the experiences in the past will help me (tonight).”

Cobb has gotten off to some slow starts even when pitching on normal rest. Returning after a long layoff and facing the Tigers' potent lineup could be a problem.

“Alex has always had that issue on occasion, so it could be exaggerated a bit here right now,” Maddon said. “I hope not.”