In his first time facing hitters since landing on the disabled list last month, Royals starter Jason Vargas will throw a pair of simulated innings with a 40-pitch limit on Thursday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.
Manager Ned Yost indicated Vargas may require two more outings before he can return from his second flexor strain of the season.
“We want to get him back to the 80- or 90-pitch mark,” Yost said. “Now is a rehab start needed? Maybe. We’ll get there and look at it.”
Vargas has not pitched since June 8 in Minnesota. He felt soreness in his left forearm in his subsequent bullpen session. An MRI revealed a recurrence of the strain of the muscle near his elbow, which trainer Nick Kenney indicated may have been a result of his initial strain, suffered in May, never fully healing.
Both Vargas and Yordano Ventura (ulnar nerve irritation) are currently laid low by arm injuries. Ventura was slated to make his second rehab start with Class AAA Omaha on Wednesday evening.
The team has set a careful pace with Vargas. Yost indicated Vargas would prefer to avoid a rehab start in the minors, even though he and pitching coach Dave Eiland indicated it’s a legitimate possibility.
“Some guys like Vargy, when they’re coming off an arm (injury) like that, they want to make sure that they’re in a more controlled environment, getting up to their pitch count,” Yost said. “They don’t know, ‘What if somebody boots a ball and I’ve got to throw 25 pitches in an inning?’ Whereas in a sim game, I can get my pitch count up to 15, and I don’t have to over-extend.”