ST. PETERSBURG -- Alex Cobb continues to make progress in his return from the concussion he sustained on June 15 when Kansas City's Eric Hosmer hit a line drive off the right side of his head.
On Friday, Cobb threw his first bullpen session off of a mound.
"Bullpen went great," Cobb said. "Felt like I did before I got injured. Surprising, because usually you feel a little awkward on the mound when you haven't been out there for a while. It's the most activity we've done since I've [been back]. Getting on the mound is obviously a step in the right direction."
Cobb acknowledged that he doesn't think he's "extremely close" to his return, but he added: "We're moving a lot faster than we expected."
He pointed out that the initial prognosis for his recovery called for him to be playing catch by July 5. Instead, he was throwing off a mound.
"That's kind of a good sign about how things are going," Cobb said. "What we're doing right now is keeping my physical condition up to par with game activities and building up to that right now. So once the other conditions go away, I'll be able to jump back in. It's hard to say when those things are going to go away.
"We're doing a lot of different things to try and get it rolling in the right direction, and we're on the right path. I just can't say a certain date or week or anything along those lines. But the progress is going quickly. It's a great feeling to be out here and one step closer to being back out here in games."
The "other conditions" Cobb spoke of deal with the vertigo he has been suffering.
"In the next couple of weeks, according to what the doctors say, I should see a drastic improvement from where we are right now," Cobb said.
When asked about his next step, Cobb said the plan he's following is like a rehab assignment.
"A bullpen here, a bullpen in maybe two days, then again, see where we're at," Cobb said. "And then kind of just stay on a path to where I'm getting ready for a game. Getting ready to step back on to a game field.
"And get ready to the best we can physically and then once mentally I'm back to normal in my head, I'll be able to jump back out there."
Cobb has passed the first set of concussion tests administered to him, and he anticipates more on the horizon.
"All I hear is that it's very difficult to get cleared," Cobb said. "We haven't finished that process because I'm not ready. But once I am ready to finish with my process of getting physically ready, I shouldn't have a problem passing those."
Cobb, who arguably was the team's most consistent pitcher prior to his injury, managed to find a silver lining within his difficult situation.
"It could be a positive thing," Cobb said. "I could be really fresh when I come back and in better shape, so it could be a really good thing."
In the long run, having David Price miss some time and Cobb missing time, might prove to be a good thing for the Rays.
"As the season progresses, August and September, we could have two fresh arms in Alex and David," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "And that's going to be a good thing."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Sam Strong is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.