Detroit Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez revealed to ESPN that he contracted the Zika virus this past offseason in Venezuela.
ESPN.Com’s Katie Strang explained some of the discomforting effects the mosquito-transmitted virus caused on Rodriguez:
Rodriguez, a 34-year-old native of Caracas, Venezuela, contracted the virus this past offseason and learned just how serious the illness can be. He was laid up for two weeks with severe bodyaches, joint pain, headaches and a myriad of other symptoms.
Rodriguez — who recently became the sixth pitcher in MLB history to reach 400 career saves — went into more detail about the symptoms himself, and explained how the recovery carried all the way into spring training:
“It wasn’t a cold, trust me,” he said. “It wasn’t a cold. A cold, you have a sneeze, have a headache, take a couple Tylenol and you’re done. You don’t have a cold for two weeks, you don’t have a bodyache for two weeks, you don’t have headaches, throwing up, weaknesses for two weeks.”
Rodriguez, who recently became only the sixth pitcher in MLB history to record 400 saves, had bloodwork performed to see whether he had Zika or chikungunya, a different mosquito-borne illness, which Tigers prospect Bruce Rondon contracted this offseason. The test determined it was Zika, and from there it was a slow recovery. Although Rodriguez was infected with the virus for only two weeks, the effects were far-reaching.
Rodriguez said it took two months before he ultimately felt like himself again, adding that the recovery even affected him once he got into spring training with his new club, although he was never considered contagious.
Many athletes — such as Pau Gasol and Rory McIlroy — have talked about potentially skipping the 2016 Rio Olympics due to concerns over Zika. Rodriguez says that he “wouldn’t blame them” for skipping the Olympics, and advises that the athletes “do some homework, some research about it (Zika)”:
“I wouldn’t blame them,” Rodriguez told ESPN.com of any athletes having second thoughts about competing. “If they have plans to have kids in the future, you’ve got to think about it. You have to be aware of that as well. You have to do some homework, some research about it.”
Despite K-Rod being affected by the virus all the way into Spring Training, the veteran right-hander has put together a solid season with the Tigers, ranking second in the American League with 14 saves (in 15 tries).