Rays righthander 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 Cobb (mild concussion) had already come since getting struck in the head with a line drive June 15, he was optimistic he could still take the next big step in Tuesday night's first rehab start for Class A Charlotte.
Two pitches in, however, Cobb pulled the plug, believing he made the smart decision to leave the game and not risk turning what he labeled a minor setback into a major one. He thinks the blister will heal in a couple days, and hopes he can make the first of two rehab starts this weekend or early next week.
"It's definitely frustrating," Cobb said. "How close we're coming back and then to have this kind of take a little bump in the road...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 dealt with blisters before while in the minors, attributing this one to the humidity in Port Charlotte. He said they felt he could get through Tuesday's four-inning outing and then allow it to heal before his next one on Sunday. But when the blister became more tender while warming up in the bullpen Tuesday, it crossed Cobb's mind he might not pitch at all.
Cobb gave it a shot, appreciating the nice ovation from the crowd. After two pitches, a called ball and a strike, Cobb summoned for help from the dugout and soon 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, and I was trying to get through it," 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: RHP Brandon Gomes (lat strain), also rehabbing with the Stone Crabs, allowed three runs on four hits (two homers) in 2/3 inning.