IN TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Guerrero was on a golf course, playing, when he received his first text from Mike McCurley, the team’s head trainer, last Wednesday.
“You’re experiencing diarrhea. Make sure you have medicine,” it read.
Guerrero, a third baseman with the New York Yankees, was suddenly face to face with a virus that had affected much of baseball, including the Chicago Cubs. During a 20-minute phone conversation with McCurley, he told him he had been running around and sweating, and that “it was getting worse.” The text later was modified to “I had pain and my abdominal wall was tightening up, too. Make sure you have some medicine.”
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Guerrero, 32, who said he had lost 20 pounds since entering a Florida hospital, broke the news to the Yankees on Thursday. They sent reinforcements to a position that has been an unusual source of pluses and minuses for the team: a third baseman who can play both second and third.
“He’s feeling better, he’s sleeping a lot better, he’s eating,” McCurley said in a video posted on the team’s website. “We’re heading in the right direction.”
Signed as a free agent in the offseason, Guerrero, who played for the Dodgers last year, appeared to have adapted seamlessly to his new surroundings. He had hits in 16 of his 17 games and as of Tuesday was batting .286, and had driven in seven runs.
But he was not immune to the disease that struck in Tampa as players sweated it out in air-conditioned suites during September heat waves and bleachers fainted. He spent two nights in the hospital, with the Yankees’ investigation determined that he had come into contact with a virus, not bacteria.
McCurley said he thought Guerrero had inadvertently sat on a piece of debris that was contaminated by the storm. If Guerrero can overcome a tenacious bacterial infection, he can have another go at his new team.
According to Bloomberg, the average MLB player costs about $5 million a year to sign. The player-protection policy in the eight-year, $206 million contract that signed Giancarlo Stanton to a six-year, $325 million deal included incentives for playing more than 126 games in 2018. The policy limits him to 83 games, but the Yankees have stuck with the four-time All-Star.
“If you’re excited about this guy’s impact, and you ask anyone in this building, they’re going to say: ‘Give him 125, 130 games,’” Aaron Boone, the manager, said on Friday. “‘Give him 100 games. Give him another hundred.’”
What comes next is what will enrage the fans: He has to miss the rest of the World Series push. As McCurley told Guerrero, “Now this is here, this is now. Now we’re not having this conversation.”
Next for Guerrero: travel back home to Mexico.