Royals left-hander Jason Vargas, in the final stages of rehab after Tommy John surgery, is getting closer to a possible return, while left-hander Mike Minor appears to have hit another setback.
Vargas was transferred to Class AAA Omaha on Monday and was slated to make his fourth start of a rehab assignment on Monday night. Vargas previously made two starts for the Royals’ Rookie-league affiliate in Surprise, Ariz., and one for Class AA Northwest Arkansas.
Vargas allowed two earned runs for Northwest Arkansas in 2 1/3 innings on Wednesday. He threw 42 pitches.
The Royals have said that Vargas could contribute to the major-league roster in some capacity in September. He underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow last August. He is currently in the process of building up his pitch count.
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While Vargas continues to progress, Minor, a left-handed starter signed in the offseason, experienced more complications in his last rehab start for Omaha. He allowed six earned runs in four innings in a start at Class AAA Fresno on Friday. Royals general manager Dayton Moore told the Royals Radio Network that Minor experienced shoulder stiffness during the start and may not pitch in the major leagues this season.
Minor, 28, signed a two-year, $7.25 million contract during spring training. A former member of the Braves starting rotation, Minor missed all of 2015 while undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. If healthy, he could be a candidate to fill out the Royals' starting rotation in 2017.