The last time MLB opened the season in Japan, two players from the New York Yankees came home infected with parasites. We take a look at the two teams headed to Japan this time, and try to predict the players most likely to contract a parasite during MLB's most recent money making ploy.
1) Bobby Crosby- It seems like Crosby is always banged up with some sort of ailment. From back to wrist there is always something to bring Crosby down, just when it seems like there is reason to believe. This season, who would be surprised, if Crosby hits 2HR and steals a bag while in Japan. Then when they get back to the states, Crosby continues his hot streak for a couple weeks, before being stricken with a mysterious ailment. Crosby becomes fatigued and can't figure out why. His numbers plummet and once glowing fantasy owners are bitter that they have been had once again by the infamous Crosby. It finally comes out a few weeks later that he was infected with a parasite while in Japan, because they so loved feasting on his brittle bone structure and weak ligaments.
2) J.D. Drew- The right fielder who for years has battled injury problems comes down with one more tweak when he becomes stricken with a parasite while in Japan. Drew's numbers took off in spring training and Drew entered the 2008 season with much promise. Then, before the season opener, in Japan, Drew suddenly suffers from back spasms. The once promising season becomes another injury footnote, because, unknown to everyone, Drew has a parasite.
Luckily for Drew his numbers pick back up in June, after the parasite miraculously leaves his body on its own. Doctors later say the parasites had trouble moving around in Drew's body due to a circulation problem, caused by Drew's lack of heart.
3) Rich Harden- The flame thrower dazzles A's management and fans a like as he wins his first 3 starts of the season, pitching to the tune of a 1.27 ERA with 15Ks in 18.2 IP. He looks like a lock for pitcher of the month of April until his final start of the month, where he labors badly against the Seattle Mariners. A's trainers diagnose it as a "dead arm" period, shut Harden down and put him on the 15 day DL.
After a late May return Harden looks good for the first 3 innings of his start against the Toronto Blue Jays. On his way to the dugout following a strikeout of Aaron Hill to end the 3rd, he complains to SS Donnie Murphy of stomach pains. He goes back out there for the 4th inning, but is knocked out after throwing a 3-2 pitch to Frank Thomas and collapsing on the mound in pain. Players and trainers rush to the mound to see what has happened, and are horrified when they find this coming out of his stomach.
Third baseman Eric Chavez, yells in horror and tares his ACL running away.
4) Jason Varitek- Varitek has battled some serious knee problems recently, but has started off his 2008 season strong. He has 4HR at the end of April and is hitting a solid .285AVG. Many in Boston are calling Varitek rejuvenated and are rallying for him to start the all star game. Things are looking great until May when Varitek goes 0-28 over the course of a two part against Kansas City and Oakland. People begin to say that he's an old catcher and the years of wear and tare have finally caught up to him.
The parasite goes undiagnosed until July, when back up Kevin Cash gets hit in the left hand in his first at bat against Oriole's righty Daniel Cabrera. Varitek is forced to catch knuckler Tim Wakefield, and team officials begin to think something is wrong when he is knocked over by a 53MPH warmup pitch.