Jason Vargas and the gravity of blood clots

In the days leading up to his last start on June 17th, Jason Vargas of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim began to notice a tingling sensation in the middle finger of his left hand. Under the watchful eyes of the Angels training staff, the lefty took his scheduled turn and tossed 7 strong innings against the Seattle Mariners, while striking out nine. Following the game, the circulation problems in his hand persisted and more extensive tests revealed a blood clot under his left armpit.

Immediately shutdown, Vargas was given an initial estimated recovery time of 4-6 weeks following  surgery to remove the blood clot. The procedure took place on June 25th, followed a second opinion received at UCLA which further confirmed the clotting, and the immediate need to take action before further issues arise.

As a point of reference, Vargas's successful surgery should come as a major relief to Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto, whom suffered a blood clot of his own in 1998. The former Colorado Rockies closer, suffered an adverse reaction to medicine injected into his wrist during surgery in an attempt to dissolve the blood clot. As he lied unconscious on the operating table, the reaction left him clinically dead for 20 seconds after his heart momentarily stopped.

While the exact details of the malady have not yet been released, one can conjecture that diagnosis went beyond the preferred treatment of blood thinners to treat the clotting. In Vargas's case, the blood clot was more than likely was found deep in his armpit area, and the risk of growth or spreading to the lungs or other essential organs, made the removal necessary and pertinent.

Recognizing the severity of the matter, Angels manager Mike Scioscia recently opened up to the Los Angeles Times about the situation:

We're all relieved this was caught, not for a guy coming back to pitch but for a guy needing a procedure for a condition that could be very serious," Scioscia said. "This needs to be taken care of. That's the most important thing.
For an ailment that transcends the normal sports injury, Jason Vargas appears clear to resume his career, and more importantly his life in the weeks to come. After surgery, Vargas will be able to start throwing program after two weeks, followed by the normal routine to strengthen his arm before returning to game activity soon. While his injury may prevent him from becoming a valuable trade chip come July 31st for the struggling Angels, the prospect of returning to the mound and continuing an effective 2013 campaign appear bright.



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