As per an article by John Hickey in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News, former Pirates first baseman Ike Davis was still afflicted with Valley Fever during the 2014 season. In the piece, Davis claimed that an X-ray "last year" indicted that he was still suffering from the disease, which he described as "a nightmare" where "you have no energy, no nothing".
According to the Center for Disease Control, the symptoms of Valley Fever include fatigue, cough, fever, shortness of breath, headache, night sweats, muscle aches or joint pain, and a rash on the upper body or legs. Additionally, the CDC indicates that 5-10% of those who contract Valley Fever develop serious or long-term problems with their lungs, and in another 1% of cases, the disease spreads from the lungs into the nervous system, skin, or bones and joints.
Davis was initially diagnosed with Valley Fever during spring training in 2012, and his statements as to the degree to which it affected his performance have varied widely over the subsequent months.
In March of 2012, according to ESPN's Adam Rubin, Davis said, "I feel great. And I don't have any symptoms of it. I'm not coughing. I'm not throwing up blood. I'm not doing anything. It's not even hard to breathe. The doctor said I could play -- and just don't get really, really fatigued. So that's what we're doing. And if I get really tired, I kind of just step to the side and take a break."
In February of 2013, Davis told Rubin a different story, saying, "I had to limit a lot of things last year as far as workload. I didn’t have a beer all of spring training last year. I went home and laid on the couch. And I usually fish for another six hours every day [after Mets workouts]. I didn’t say anything to anybody, besides maybe the trainers." The issues seemed to be behind Davis - Mets manager Terry Collins (as quoted by Tyler Kepner in the New York Times) said in May of 2013 that Davis "feels absolutely great this year".
Davis struggled in 2013, turning in the least productive season of his major league career, and after the end of the year he revealed that he had been playing through medical problems that he did not disclose to the team, most notably an oblique strain. Speaking to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Davis said, "I thought about saying, ‘Hey, I would like to take a couple of weeks off, because I’m not feeling great,’ But then the timing was bad and it was when I was getting sent down. It would have been a great time, but it looks bad and I just can’t say that. [...] I probably should have said something earlier, but what are you going to do? I wanted to play better, I didn’t want to come out." The piece did not include any comments on his history with Valley Fever.
After the publication of the article containing those quotes, Davis elaborated on his prior remarks, saying, "You can’t tell people stuff because you won’t play. You always hurt. We always hurt. We play 162 games in how many days? You hurt all the time. Unless you can’t physically go out and play, you can’t say anything. So that’s what we do. And you have injuries that last a little longer or they don’t."
The Pirates acquired Davis from the Mets early in the 2014 season, and initially they assigned him a role as the larger half of a first base platoon with Gaby Sanchez. For whatever reason, he did not hit the way the Pirates had hoped, and he was replaced in that role by Pedro Alvarez, before re-assuming it when Alvarez suffered a season-ending injury to his foot. After the end of the season, the Pirates traded Davis to the Oakland Athletics.
According to Hickey's piece, Davis is currently "feeling stronger than he has in several years."
Given Davis's medical history, and the accuracy of his disclosures in that area, I am not entirely convinced by his pronouncement, but I wish him health and success in 2015. Either way, those things are Oakland's concern now.