03/03/12 5:34 PM EST
Mets treating Davis as if he has Valley Fever
Club, first baseman awaiting test results from blood work
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
Whether that statement will be applicable each day come April is an unknown that makes his manager and Davis himself squirm. Davis is not the picture of health. He has, in fact, contracted Valley or Desert Fever, a malady that can interfere with a season and even end a career.
His illness has set off no alarms in the Mets' camp. Truth be told, the diagnosis is not a topic of public discussion or much private dialouge. But there is an awareness, and, behind that, a concern.
Davis said Saturday that the results of blood tests administered in New York 11 days earlier have not yet been returned, and that he has received no official diagnosis. But manager Terry Collins acknowledged Saturday the club is treating Davis as if Valley Fever has been diagnosed and the Mets are monitoring their first baseman.
"We're treating him as if that's what it is," Collins said. "We can't let him run down. That's what we've been told. We'll give him some days off. He says he can go, and he's been doing everything he's supposed to. But we need to be sure he doesn't push it."
Davis, reluctant to speak publicly about the illness, did so Saturday. "I have to keep my immune system strong," he said. "No one has told me for sure what it is, and I haven't asked. But they're pretty positive it is [Valley Fever]. I'm trying to be positive about it. I'll just be careful the way they tell me to be careful."
A Mayo Clinic website states that symptoms can appear one to three weeks after exposure and can include fever, cough, chest pain, chills, night sweats, headache, fatigue, shortness of breath, joint aches and a red, spotty rash.
Davis, who lives in Arizona in the offseason, says he has experienced no symptoms. "I feel normal. I don't feel anything," he said.
The Mayo Clinic website goes on to say that "Valley Fever, even when it's symptomatic, often clears on its own. Yet for older adults and others at high risk, recovery can be slow."
Davis, who turns 25 in three weeks, believed he had no such problem when he returned from New York. The club characterized what had been detected as an infection in the lung. It said no antibiotic treatment was necessary. At the time, Davis already was quite aware of former Diamondbacks player Conor Jackson, who missed most of his 2009 season because of Valley Fever.
And Collins had witnessed the debilitating of Joe Vavra, now the Twins' batting coach, when he and Vavra were with the Dodgers. Collins noted that, in Vavra's case, one of the symptoms that developed was a hole in the lung. Vavra's playing career never resumed.
At the same time, Collins worried about possibly playing another season without his primary source of left-handed power if Davis became unavailable. Davis missed most of last season after suffered a bone bruise on his left ankle May 10. The manager immediately made contingency plans for first base.
"Had to," Collins said. "Have to be prepared. Can't be blindsided."
Collins indicated he considers Davis' presence most critical to the teams' success this year because his defensive prowess at first base helps the other infielders, and because his left-handed power in the No. 4 positiion provides protection for No. 3 hitter David Wright and No. 5 hitter Jason Bay.
The manager and his staff discussed the ramifications of a defense without Davis.
"It was going to depend on the length of time," Collns said. "If Ike was going to be out for two weeks or a month, we'd make slight modifications. If it was supposed to be a significant amount of time, Lucas Duda would move in to first."
The batting order wouldn't be repaired so easily.
There is no indication at this point that Davis will miss more than an occasional game, if that. Later Saturday, Collins acknowledged that Scott Hairston, injured during the late-morning intrasquad game, and Mike Baxter would familiarize themselves with first base, but gave no indication either would be need to play the position.
"We're going forward," Collins said in the morning, "as if Ike will be in the lineup just about every day." And Davis prefers that approach.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.