The trading deadline didn’t quite go as planned for the Yankees with the news that their newly acquired starting pitcher J.A. Happ has been diagnosed with what is being characterized as a “mild” case of hand, foot, and mouth disease. Happ underwent testing at a local hospital yesterday where the diagnosis of the Yankees’ team internist was confirmed. Yankee general manager, Brian Cashman, doesn’t think that Happ will have to go on the disabled list but told ESPN that they would be monitoring his condition very closely. Happ is the second starting pitcher in New York to come down with the disease in as many weeks, as the Met’s Noah Syndergaard is just coming back from the same ailment.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection that is typically seen in children under 5-years-old, so Happ contracting it is a bit of an anomaly. Cashman relayed that Happ’s doctors were unable to definitively tell the pitcher how he contracted the disease, other than that it is possible the transmission occurred when he was taking a commercial flight to New York to join the team after his trade. He further stated that no one will ever know how it happened, and anything that is reported on how Happ contracted it is only a guess.
The Yankees still have Happ slated to pitch on Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, according to the New York Post, but the final determination on that will be how comfortable he and manager Aaron Boone feel about Happ taking the mound. The Yankees may call up a spot-starter on Friday just to be safe. According to Michigan Live, Syndergaard was on the 10-Day Disabled List when he contracted it, although it was thought his case of it was a bit worse.
Looking back on Happ’s first start with the Yankees, it is believed he had the infection then as his velocity was lower than usual, and later in the game, the blisters forming on his fingers were presenting problems for him when trying to grip and throw the ball. Since the infection can be spread by coughing, sneezing, or via blister fluid, the Yankees plan to be cautious if signs of a flare-up appear. At this time, however, Brian Cashman feels confident Happ is almost over it, according to a report from ESPN.
“If everything is as it is now, he probably would be able to go on Saturday. but it’s to be determined, so we’re taking all the necessary precautions.”
The Yankees have added more hand sanitizers around their facilities to help protect other players against transmission. Lance Lynn and Luis Cessa are thought to be the likely candidates to start if Happ is scratched.