A few months ago, the swine flu epidemic turned the international sports scene into absolute chaos. Soccer teams in Mexico were forced to play in empty stadiums, and high school games and tournaments across the US were threatened. It was a total mess, but fortunately American professional sports were spared any damage.
But that’s all changed, as the DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Texas Rangers pitcher Vicente Padilla has been diagnosed with the swine flu after missing a start earlier this week with the always mysterious “flu-like symptoms.” Even more troubling, several of Padilla’s teammates are also laid up with bad flus, and while the team is waiting for test results to come back before they know anything for sure, it seems pretty clear that the Rangers might have a swine flu outbreak on their hands.
Padilla went home to his native Nicaragua over the All-Star break. Which is not to say that he picked it up there, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s at least a possibility. But don’t worry - Padilla’s already feeling a lot better, and is ready to make his next start on Tuesday. Which seems like a spectacularly bad idea, unless they plan on having him play in a Hazmat suit.
Several of Padilla’s teammates have also been dealing with the flu, including pitchers Eddie Guardado, Willie Eyre and Kevin Millwood, shortstop Omar Vizquel and outfielder David Murphy. For Guardado, the symptoms were unlike anything he’s ever had in his life, and if it’s enough to knock out someone nicknamed “Everyday Eddie,” it has to be bad.
“I had never missed a game for being sick in my career,” he said. “My wife came and asked me if I was all right and I said, ‘Why don’t you just bring the gun.’ That’s how bad it was. I’ve never been like that ever.”
Add this to Frank Francisco’s pneumonia, and the Rangers are pretty much starting to resemble a European city during an outbreak of TB hundreds of years ago. But assistant general manager Thad Levine says there’s no reason to panic.
“We’re taking all the same precautions,” Levine said. “We just now have a label associated with one of our players that probably at the end of the day sounds a little more dire than it may be.”
And there’s no reason to read anything into the Rangers’ upcoming planned promotions, including Surgical Mask Night and the Free Tamiflu giveaways.