"I started to feel a difference in the way my [left] middle finger felt three or four days before my last start [on Monday]," Vargas said. "It didn't really affect anything; we just treated it as it was. It didn't really get a whole lot better, so we decided to take a look at it and found a blood clot in there. It's good that we got it recognized early."
Several pitchers have missed significant time due to blood clots. The Tigers' Jeremy Bonderman missed the last four months of the 2008 season after having surgery to correct a blood clot, then had further complications that delayed his return until June 2009. The Rockies' Aaron Cook had a blood clot that forced him to remove a rib and kept him out for about a year from 2004-05. And the Angels' own general manager, Jerry Dipoto, had a near-death experience with a blood clot that moved to his right wrist in 1998.
But Vargas' clot isn't deemed to be anywhere near that serious. Because they found it early, it hasn't spread and he likely won't require blood thinners to rehab from it. The Angels' medical staff believes it can be resolved "in a short amount of time," manager Mike Scioscia said.
How short, though, remains to be seen.
And the news is nonetheless a major blow to a starting rotation that ranks 21st in the Majors in ERA and already had to stomach the loss of ace Jered Weaver for seven weeks. Vargas, the American League Pitcher of the Month for May, is 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 14 starts.
"There's no doubt he can go and pitch with it right now if he had to," Scioscia said, "but along the lines of a person's well-being, and as further tests were done just to see what was causing the sensation he had, they discovered something there that needs to be addressed. He was throwing the ball great. But that's not the issue. His issue is trying to take care of this so he can keep going forward."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.