PORT CHARLOTTE — Rays right-hander Alex Cobb said the blister on his right index finger was a concern since it popped up in Sunday's bullpen session.
But considering how far he'd come since getting struck in the head by a line drive June 15, he was optimistic he could take the next big step in Tuesday night's rehab start for Class A Charlotte.
But two pitches in Cobb pulled the plug, not risking turning what he labeled a minor setback into a major one. He hopes to make the first of two rehab starts this weekend or early next week.
"It's definitely frustrating," Cobb said. "I'm trying to look at it like, it could be worse, I could still not be pitching at all. … I'm going to go about it like I'm definitely still way ahead than where I should be."
Cobb, who was targeting an early August return, has had blisters before in the minors, attributing this one to humidity. He said they felt he could get through Tuesday's four-inning outing then allow it to heal before his next one Sunday. But the blister became more tender while he warmed up in the bullpen.
Cobb gave it a shot, but after a called ball and a strike he summoned for help from the dugout and walked off the mound, a decision head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield endorsed in a later phone conversation.
"The first couple pitches, I was trying to talk myself out of coming out because it was a fun feeling being back out there," Cobb said. "As much as I wanted to be out there and stay out there, it would have delayed the process of the main goal of getting back at the Trop and getting back on the game mound."
MORE MEDICAL: Right-hander Brandon Gomes (lat strain), rehabbing with the Stone Crabs, allowed three runs on four hits (two homers) in two-thirds of an inning.