Royals left-hander Jason Vargas returned to the mound at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, throwing a three-inning simulated game in what figures to be the final step in his recovery process.
Next stop, removing Vargas from the disabled list and returning him to the rotation.
Vargas suffered a strained flexor muscle in his elbow after a May 5 start against the Indians.
“It felt normal,” Vargas said. “Feeling like everything is healthy. I come out it of feeling fine.”
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Vargas threw a total of 45 pitches to Jarrod Dyson, Christian Colon and … outfielder Alex Rios, which made the exercise twice a productive.
Rios hasn’t played since April 13, when he fractured a bone in his left hand when hit by a pitch.
Friday amounted to Rios’ first outdoor batting practice session.
“It feels good, that’s a good sign,” Rios said. “I’ve come a long way. I’m getting significantly better every day. It’s just a matter of how it feels in the next couple of days to set up a plan and go on an (rehabilitation) assignment.”
That could happen next week, Royals manager Ned Yost said.