DETROIT -- A second opinion on the blood clot in Jason Vargas' left armpit area confirmed what was learned late last week -- the Angels left-hander will require surgery to remove it, prompting him to be shut down from throwing for a couple of weeks.
Vargas' surgery will be performed by Dr. Russell Montgomery at St. Joseph Hospital of Orange at 8 a.m. PT on Wednesday. If all goes well, the 30-year-old can start building back arm strength 14 days later, which should have him back off the disabled list by the end of July.
"Needless to say, this is going to be a procedure that will have some rehab with it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "My understanding would be a couple weeks before he starts to throw again, and once that throwing process starts, you'll get an indication for how long it'll be. But right now, it's tough to get a timeframe outside of he won't be throwing a baseball for a couple weeks."
When Vargas does return, will the Angels -- 10 games below .500 heading into a three-game series against the Tigers Tuesday -- remain far enough back that they'll entertain trade offers for the pending free agent?
That's a question for another day.
For now, all they can do is try to compensate for the loss of arguably their most productive starter.
Vargas, 6-4 with a 3.65 ERA in 14 starts, first started to feel some tingling in his left middle finger before his last start against the Mariners on June 17. It didn't bother him on the mound, and Vargas pitched well, throwing seven innings of two-run ball while striking out nine batters, but he underwent an exam that revealed the clot three days later.
Blood clots, common in athletes in sports that require aggressive overhand motions, can be scary. Left-hander Aaron Cook lost a rib due to a clot, former big leaguer Craig Dingman's career ended due to complications from it, and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto's heart temporarily stopped because of medication to treat a clot.
But Vargas' clot was caught early enough that it didn't spread.
"We're all obviously relieved it was caught, not for a guy coming back to pitch, but for a guy needing a procedure for a condition that can be very serious -- that's first and foremost," said Scioscia, who doesn't expect Vargas to join the team on its six-game road trip. "This is something that needs to be taken care of and it will be. That's the most important thing going here, and secondary will be when he can go back and do what he loves to do, which is pitch."
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.Less