KANSAS CITY -- Jason Vargas had waited 14 months to step back onto a Major League mound and that made Saturday's start against the White Sox, a 3-2 Royals win, something special.
After recovering from Tommy John surgery, Vargas held his own in a three-inning, 52-pitch stint that launched his comeback in satisfying fashion. Vargas surrendered a run in the first, but a dazzling play by second baseman Whit Merrifield to end the inning helped boost Vargas in the right direction. He breezed through a nine-pitch second inning and gave up only a two-out walk in the third before calling it a night.
Vargas, making his first appearance since July 21, 2015, hopes to make a couple more starts designed to jump-start him toward becoming an integral part of the Royals' rotation in 2017.
"He was a big part of our rotation before he got hurt," manager Ned Yost said before Vargas took the mound. "We hope he can be a big part of our rotation next year."
Vargas was backed up by some excellent relief work. Dillon Gee came on to work 4 1/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits. Joakim Soria escaped an eighth inning jam and Wade Davis struck out the side in the ninth.
"Anybody coming back from a surgery, this is their goal," Vargas said. "I'm definitely very fortunate that we've had everything happen with all the right steps. It feels good. I knew if I had the opportunity to get out there this year it would be icing on the cake as far as going into next season."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Kansas City and covered the Royals on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.