Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates' Caribbean Series in Doubt Players Worried about Exposure to Zika Virus

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pirates' Caribbean Series in Doubt Players Worried about Exposure to Zika Virus

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO - Facing the risk of exposure to the Zika virus, the Pirates would prefer not to travel to Puerto Rico for their two- game series against the Miami Marlins in May.

"Right now, no, we don't want to," said reliever Tony Watson, who has assisted Major League Baseball Players Association representative Gerrit Cole in gathering information about potential exposure to the virus. "We don't want to go down there, because there's too much risk. We don't have all the facts either. We'll see where it goes."

The Pirates and Marlins are scheduled to play two games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in the capital city of San Juan May 30-31. The trip will coincide with Roberto Clemente Day.

A report from Yahoo! Sports Wednesday night, citing anonymous sources, said Pirates and Marlins players were concerned about the trip because of possible exposure to the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 445 locally contracted cases had been reported in Puerto Rico as of April 13.

"The health and safety of our players and staff is our No. 1 priority," said Brian Warecki, the Pirates' vice president of communications and broadcasting. "We are working closely with all parties, including MLB, MLBPA and the CDC, to ensure we are fully educated on the issue.

"We are very confident that we are taking the overly cautious steps to ensure we have a very successful two-game series in San Juan."

The Zika virus, which is usually contracted through mosquito bites but can also be spread through sexual activity, is a mild illness which manifests itself with a fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. But if contracted by a pregnant woman, according to the CDC, it can also cause a birth defect known as microcephaly, where an infant's head is smaller than average. This is of particular concern to two teams full of men in their 20s and 30s.

"It's very important to each guy in here. We're kind of in an interesting situation age-wise," Watson said. "We're going to keep working through it. I know now the CDC's on it and is informing us whenever they get new facts and whatnot. …

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