Detroit Tigers' Daniel Norris wants players to hear his message after contracting COVID-19
On Wednesday night, as teammates connected the dots of Daniel Norris’ absence at summer camp, the Detroit Tigers left-hander sent a group text to the team.
“Hey guys, No. 1, I miss you guys like crazy, I wish I was there, I wish we were all hanging out in the clubhouse having coffee,” Norris said, “But No. 2, take it seriously. Young guys, try not to go out to eat, just stay smart. Sacrifice 2½ months out of this year to be vigilant about it. That’s what’s required — that’s the only way this is going to work.”
Norris knows better than most. In the middle of June, after working out in the morning at the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Florida, he took the two-hour drive east to Cocoa Beach for a sunset surf and drove back to his spring home in Tampa in damp board shorts.
“I felt sickish but I didn’t think much of it, then for like five days, I would wake up in the middle of the night and get out of bed and I’d be dropping sweat off my fingertips, like down my forearms, off my fingertips,” Norris said.
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“It was crazy and I was just like, ‘Holy crap,’ and I would get out of bed in the morning and I’d walk to my kitchen and make coffee and I literally felt like I was 75-80 years old, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy.’”
On June 23, Norris tested positive for the coronavirus. He is unsure how he got it — “I was definitely taking it seriously, wearing my mask” — but Florida recently became a hot-spot for the virus.
After five days of body aches and night sweats — Norris said he did not experience any headaches or fevers, like others have reported in symptoms — he returned to full strength.
“After those days, I started waking up and feeling a lot better and then for the past, I would say 10 days, I felt like 100% and that, to me, is the most frustrating part on a personal level is seeing all of this going on and it just looks like so much fun and I want to be out there with my friends and I can’t, you know?”
On Wednesday night, Tigers general manager Al Avila announced that individuals in the organization have tested positive for the coronavirus; per HIPAA's privacy rule and Major League Baseball protocol, the team is not publicly identifying those players.
To date, six Tigers — including Norris — have been absent for the first week of the team’s workouts.
He has admittedly been going stir crazy, trying to stay away from summer camp updates on social media, impatiently waiting for two negative tests that will clear him to return to baseball activities.
“That part is so tough and it’s also hard for me to understand how I could still be testing positive,” Norris said. “I’ve had it for three weeks now and I feel fine and I’m like, ‘What the heck?’”
Norris, 27, is not considered high-risk because he did not receive chemotherapy or radiation treatments while beating thyroid cancer five years ago.
Though he hasn’t been cleared for baseball activities, Norris has tried to keep his arm in shape by throwing against a fence.
“When I started feeling good, I was like, ‘I’m not gonna sit here idle,’ you know?” he said. “So that’s when I started throwing for a few days against the fence.”
And in a proactive attempt to receive that first negative test, he even recently visited an urgent care in the Tampa area to get a rapid test — which came back negative.
MLB doesn’t honor outside tests, though, and so the four-hour high of that negative test came crashing down when he received another positive the next day. A player needs two consecutive negative tests to be cleared to resume baseball activities.
“I really wish I was in camp right now,” he said. “But actually, if there’s a silver lining, it’s that I got it before camp. If you get it during the season, you might be done for the year.
“That’s the crazy part that people don’t realize. The media and stuff, it’s like, if you get it, take a 14-day quarantine and you’re good. I can speak first hand and it’s not anything like that. This testing and stuff has really driven me up a wall.”
But until he can have a breakthrough in testing, Norris remains on the sidelines, waiting now in Michigan, antsy to get back for what he believes can be a breakout season for him. When he returns, he will be able to share his experiences with the team.
Until then, he wants all players to know how his perspective of the contagious virus has changed.
“Now that I’ve gotten it, if I have any advice, it’s players really need to take the protocol seriously,” he said. “Wearing the masks, not going out and all of that stuff, because if we actually want to play and get through the season, that’s what has to happen.”
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