NEW YORK — One of the New York Yankees‘ newest additions, left-handed pitcher J.A. Happ, was sent to a local hospital Tuesday afternoon and was diagnosed with a “mild” case of hand, foot and mouth disease, according to general manager Brian Cashman.
It’s unclear how Happ contracted the viral disease that normally affects children younger than 5 years old. The only theory the Yankees have is that he might have received it while traveling commercially across the country to make it to New York in recent days after being traded from Toronto on Thursday.
“No one’s really going to have an answer to it, other than just guessing,” Cashman said.
Cashman said it does not yet appear that Happ will be forced to the disabled list, though the Yankees will be monitoring how he recovers in the coming days. For now, Happ is slated to start Saturday against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“I can only convey to you what our internist who evaluated Happ conveyed to me,” Cashman told reporters. “He feels currently this is a mild case, but he’ll stay connected.
“We’ll be in a better position [Wednesday] to evaluate whether this is towards the tail end of this thing or if it’s ramping up.”
The disease also was recently contracted by New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who has been on the 10-day DL since July 22 because of it. The right-hander is expected to return Wednesday.
The Mets believed Syndergaard contracted his case of hand, foot and mouth working a camp for kids during the All-Star break. The day after Syndergaard was at the camp, he pitched five innings in a Mets win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Late in the start, his velocity noticeably decreased as he began feeling blisters on his hands.
Happ’s Yankees debut came at Yankee Stadium, where he threw six innings of three-hit ball in a win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hand, foot and mouth disease can spread when people who have it cough or sneeze. People also can become infected if they come into contact with an infected person’s blister fluid. Symptoms include fever, mouth sores and a skin rash.
Cashman said Happ reported to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, where he informed trainer Steve Donahue of blisters on his hands. It was close to the 4 p.m. ET trade deadline when Donahue informed Cashman of Happ’s concern. Around the same time, the pitcher was sent to New York Presbyterian Hospital for observation.
“If everything is as it is now, he probably would be able to go on Saturday. But it’s to be determined,” Cashman said. “So we’re taking all the necessary precautions.”
As far as keeping the other Yankees hand, foot and mouth disease-free, the team has added more hand sanitizers and the like around the clubhouse and common areas used by players and staff.
In the event that Happ is unable to return by Saturday, the Yankees have options for replacements in pitcher Lance Lynn, who was acquired Monday from the Minnesota Twins. Triple-A starter Luis Cessa also would be a possibility to make Happ’s start. To protect themselves for a potential Cessa start, the Yankees limited Cessa’s outing for their affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday to just one inning.