One player with the flu getting a whole clubhouse full of players sick is pretty common in baseball, but the Royals have taken that to another level. Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that the Royals’ have a chicken pox outbreak and at least two players–outfielder Alex Rios and reliever Kelvin Herrera–are infected.
Chicken pox can be very dangerous for adults, so Rios and Herrera are expected to be out of action (and quarantined) for up to two weeks. McCullough reports that other Royals players and coaches are contacting their families to double-check if they already had chicken pox as kids, because symptoms often don’t reveal themselves for several weeks.
Team officials are expected to address the situation before Tuesday’s game against the Tigers. The Royals believe the infections are limited to only Herrera and Rios. The most at-risk players are those from countries in Latin America, where the chances of childhood inoculation are lower, experts say.
… The chickenpox virus spreads through the air or through bodily contact. The symptoms are well-known to parents, as itchy blisters overrun the skin and the body grapples with fatigue and fever. Chickenpox manifests in the same way for grown-ups, only patients suffer more and face complications such as pneumonia and brain infections, experts say.
Rios’ infection helps explain why the Royals went out and traded for another right-handed-hitting corner outfielder, Jonny Gomes of the Braves, prior to Monday night’s playoff eligibility deadline. Luckily for the Royals they’ve all but clinched the AL Central title already, but if other players are revealed as infected closer to the start of the playoffs it could be a major issue.
As MLive.com’s James Schmehl details, Tigers catcher James McCann suspects Royals outfielder Alex Rios is stealing signs. Rios was hit by a Bruce Rondon pitch in the ninth inning of Wednesday’s game at Kauffman Stadium. He advanced to second base when Rondon walked Infante.
McCann then went to visit Rondon on the mound and stared Rios down, to make him aware that he was being watched in the event he was stealing signs.
“Was he doing it? I have my suspicions,” McCann said. “No one will ever know except for him. But I do know he wasn’t able to relay them beyond that trip to the mound.”
“I just stared at him. Not knowing if he was really doing it or not,” said McCann, who didn’t directly accuse Rios of stealing signs. “But my job is to make sure it didn’t continue if it was happening.”
Rondon wound up getting the next two outs without issue, getting the save for the Tigers.
McCann was in the news a week ago for a dust-up with teammate Jose Iglesias. He felt Iglesias gave up too soon on a ground ball.
Kansas City having the top vote-getter at seven of the nine American League positions in last week’s All-Star game voting update was a big story, but get this: Now they have eight of the nine spots.
Omar Infante, who’s hitting .204 with an AL-worst .496 OPS this season, has jumped ahead of Jose Altuve to become the leading vote-getter at second base.
Which means the only non-Royals player currently in line to start the All-Star game for the AL is reigning MVP Mike Trout of the Angels, who’d be surrounded by catcher Salvador Perez, first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Omar Infante, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas, outfielders Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, and designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
Alex Rios is the only Royals player on the AL ballot not currently in line to start and even he’s fourth among outfielders despite playing just 18 games and hitting .197 this season.
Here are the position-by-position totals:
It’s time for MLB’s weekly All-Star voting update and on the American League side the Royals continue to dominate.
Kansas City currently has the top vote-getter at seven spots:
Catcher – Salvador Perez
First base – Eric Hosmer
Third base – Mike Moustakas
Shortstop – Alcides Escobar
Outfield – Alex Gordon
Outfield – Lorenzo Cain
Designated Hitter – Kendrys Morales
Second base and the third outfield spot are the only positions where the Royals don’t have the voting leader and even then Omar Infante and Alex Rios have the next-highest vote totals.
Keeping in mind that there’s still a long way to go in the voting, here are the position-by-position totals:
Out since mid-April with a fractured left hand, Alex Rios is expected to come off the disabled list and return to the Royals’ outfield Saturday.
Rios signed a one-year, $11 million deal with Kansas City this offseason and was off to a nice start before the injury. He’ll jump back into the starting lineup in right field after the Royals turned primarily to 29-year-old rookie Paulo Orlando in his absence.
Overall this season Royals right fielders have hit just .246 with two homers and a .623 OPS in 46 games.