MRSA hospitalizes Phillies' Freddy Galvis

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Freddy Galvis was a lock to open the season on the Phillies' 25-man roster. Now he'll start the season on the disabled list.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Freddy Galvis was a lock to open the season on the Phillies' 25-man roster. Now he'll start the season on the disabled list.
Posted: March 24, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Eleven days ago, before starting at shortstop in a game in Disney World, where the Atlanta Braves call spring training home, Freddy Galvis rolled up his left pant leg and showed off a nasty cut.

It wasn't an uncommon injury for a baseball player, as they slide hard into the ground routinely when trying to get to a base on offense or field a hard-to-reach grounder on defense. Galvis got this particular wound after sliding into third base one day.

It was the reason he had briefly ditched his normal high-sock look.

The wound on Galvis' left knee has turned into something far more serious than an annoyance that prevented his baseball fashion of choice. It's led to an infection that will keep him off the Opening Day roster.

Galvis was diagnosed with a MRSA infection, the Daily News learned yesterday. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed the news following a 2-2 tie with the Boston Red Sox yesterday at Bright House Field.

MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) is a staph-infection strain that is often resistant to antibiotics and that also can lead to other serious infections.

The Phillies are unsure how long they will be without Galvis, who was considered a lock for the bench 2 months ago by manager Ryne Sandberg for his dependable and trustworthy glove. Galvis will begin the season on the disabled list.

"Right now, we're more concerned with his overall health more than anything else," Amaro said. "He's going to be in the hospital for a little bit, I don't know how long . . . We do not have any time frame because of the severity of what the MRSA is . . . Hopefully the infection gets out of his body as quickly as possible."

Earlier in the day, the Phillies announced that Galvis had been hospitalized with a staph infection after undergoing a procedure to have an abscess removed from his left knee.

Galvis underwent that surgery to treat the abscess Wednesday, Amaro said. Galvis, who hasn't played in a game since Sunday, was hospitalized overnight on Thursday, where he remained yesterday, when the staph infection became apparent.

Galvis has been taking antibiotics both orally and through an IV. He is said to be be doing better, according to the source.

Speaking outside Bright House Field before yesterday's game, Amaro said the infection "could end up being MRSA," but that Galvis was undergoing tests. But at that time, Galvis has already been treated for MRSA, according to a source.

MRSA is highly infectious and can be spread through casual contact or shared, contaminated objects. Following the game, Amaro said the Phillies were having the home clubhouse at Bright House Field bombed with disinfectant.

"[We'll] bomb it up pretty good and try to clear that," Amaro said. "Obviously, it is a bit of a concern. We'll take the proper precautions. Unfortunately, when you're in a clubhouse with 60-plus people or whatever it was, this kind of stuff can happen. If you see everyone's locker, every single guy has that disinfectant stuff. It's stuff that happens. You can't do much about it [besides] trying to prevent anything else from happening."

MRSA became close to a household word last fall in Philadelphia when three members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were diagnosed with the infection before the team's Oct. 13 game against the Eagles. Despite rumors that the game could be pushed back because of the outbreak, it went on as scheduled, with the Eagles beating the Bucs, 31-20, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

According to a New York Times story in October, the Buccaneers worked with Dr. Deverick J. Anderson, co-director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network, "to identify the infections and review protocols for preventing them."

"The reality is we all get exposed to MRSA pretty regularly, but because we have intact skin, we don't run into any problems with it," Anderson told the Times.

Anderson spoke at a press conference the day before the Eagles-Bucs game last fall and said the Bucs' stadium and facility were "a safe environment for players and staff."

Amaro faced similar questions yesterday afternoon. He said the clubhouse would be cleaned and sterilized and that the team would take every precaution to prevent it from spreading further.

With several Phillies fighting illnesses this spring, the cleaning and sterilizing is all the more important. Domomic Brown has been unavailable to play for the last 3 days while dealing with an illness and third-base prospect Maikel Franco went home sick yesterday; Jimmy Rollins, Justin De Fratus, Kyle Kendrick and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez are among others who have dealt with "flulike symptoms" within the last month.

It was enough for someone to post a "WASH YOUR HANDS" sign on the corkboard as you enter the clubhouse at Bright House Field. Cliff Lee, who pitched yesterday, admitted he was a bit fearful with MRSA entering the clubhouse now, too.

"I would say so," Lee said. "It's something that's serious. It's associated with locker rooms and training rooms, so I think it would be wise for our trainers and staff to clean everything properly and eliminate it. Where it came from, who knows, but you have to assume it came from here, so you do what you can to stop it."

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA, at least in medical facilities, can cause "life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections." Within the general public, it's most commonly a skin infection, according to the CDC, that although resistant to antibiotics, can be treated.

"All I know is that it's very serious," Amaro said, "and we're just going to make sure that we take care of [Galvis]. Not baseball-wise. I could care less about the baseball stuff right now."

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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