Royals outfielder Alex Rios and reliever Kelvin Herrera could miss up to two weeks with a case of the chickenpox. Rios was the first of the two diagnosed, and manager Ned Yost pulled him from the lineup on Saturday. He was sent home to Kansas City on a chartered flight the next day, and shortly thereafter Herrera began to exhibit similar symptoms. Herrera was then sent home via charter as well.
It sounds weird and almost harmless—most of us had chickenpox when we were kids and it was just a bunch of itching—but it can be much more serious if you get it as an adult. The Kansas City Star reached out to an epidemiologist with the CDC named Rafael Harpaz and he stressed the importance of quarantining the infected players and making sure everyone else was immunized or previously exposed to the virus.
"A child might have a couple hundred lesions," Harpaz said. "An adult might have over 500. The likelihood that they'll end up getting pneumonia is much higher. That's pretty rare in children. So there's a number of complications that are more common in adults than in children."
Complicating matters is the nature of transmission. Chickenpox spreads through the air and physical contact and can take at least a week for symptoms to manifest, so the tight quarters of a locker room would pose a problem if others are infected. The Royals are poised for another postseason run, too, so this is less than ideal.
Kansas City wasn't sure of Rios's availability for the remainder of the season, so they traded for Jonny Gomes just before the waiver deadline expired on Monday. That'd be a shitty situation to walk into, a possiblly infected locker room that could give you pneumonia, but Gomes is all set. He told reporters before the game tonight: "I think I've had all my rabies shots."