Jason Vargas throws first simulated game since Tommy John surgery

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

It was just 25 pitches in a simulated game, but when Royals left-hander Jason Vargas was finished Saturday, he was greeted with high-fives from a few teammates.

Relief pitcher Peter Moylan wrapped Vargas in a bear-hug.

If that seems like a lot of excitement over a simulated game, recall that Vargas last threw a pitch off the Kauffman Stadium mound last July 21 when he left a start against the Pirates after recording just four outs.

Vargas, 33, suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow, and had Tommy John surgery on Aug. 5.

“It just felt good that I didn’t stop early,” Vargas said. “It was the first time back on the mound, so you definitely don’t want anything to make you feel like you’ve got to stop. That was good. Everything else that went along with it was just icing on the cake.”

Manager Ned Yost said Vargas will throw live batting practice on July 18 in Surprise, Ariz., continue to do the same in Kansas City through this month. If all goes well, Vargas could begin a rehab assignment around the second week of August and could rejoin the team in September.

Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland watched Vargas’ work Saturday.

“He had three pitches, good change-up, fastball with life, good breaking ball,” Yost said. “A good first step for him.”

The Star’s Blair Kerkhoff contributed to this story

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff