Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez must have taken in a lot of room service during one road swing. That's because the major league's richest player is no dummy. Just as the World Health Organization lifted its warning of traveling to SARS-infected Toronto, the Rangers embarked on a series against the Blue Jays.
"If you need me, I'll be in my room," the All-Star told reporters before embarking on a road series with the Blue Jays that spanned into early May. He wasn't the lone reclusive ballplayer on the trip. Texas catcher Einar Diaz made a similar promise to sit tight. "There won't be any going out to dinner or going to the mall this time."
The team trainers held an information session for players before departing on the road swing. At the time of the series, Toronto had suffered nearly 250 instances of SARS resulting in 21 deaths. Texas manager Buck Showalter said he wanted his team to be informed of the potential dangers of the respiratory illness, but Mr. Showalter said he wouldn't quarantine himself in the hotel like some of his players. "I take great pride in washing my hands."
But while the Rangers club looked for ways to avoid exposure, the Blue Jays explored ways to fight sagging attendance figures as fear of the illness gripped the city. In fact, preceding the series with Texas, the Blue Jays managed to draw just under 17,000 fans for each of three weekend home games against the Kansas City Royals. But with a $1 ticket promotion for the first game against the Rangers, the Blue Jays sold out the SkyDome.