Dodger manager Don Mattingly was finally able to explain the absence of non-roster invitee Eliezer Alfonso on Thursday morning. While it was initially reported that Alfonso’s absence was due to family issues, it is now being reported that he is actually suffering from Dengue fever, a virus-caused disease that is spread by mosquitoes. Mattingly indicated that the ailment prevents Alfonso from being able to fly for 5 to 7 days.
To fill in the vacancy in major league camp, catching prospect Matt Wallach has been called up from Double-A Chattanooga and is expected to arrive later today.
Alfonso’s illness is the latest in a series of struggles for the 34-year-old Venezuela native – mostly of his own doing. Alfonso was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2008 while with the Giants organization. He was suspended a second time for 100 games in 2012 while with the Rockies, but that suspension was later overturned for the same reason that Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned.
Wallach was drafted by the Dodgers in the 22nd round of the 2007 first year player draft and spent the last two seasons with the Lookouts. In 2012, Wallach hit .232 with 4 home runs and 17 RBIs. He split the catching duties with Gorman Erickson, who was in big league camp for the first part of spring training last year.
Mattingly said that when Alfonso finally shows up, he will be assigned to minor league camp because of the amount of time that he has missed thus far. Alfonso was signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league came this past off-season.
Given the circumstances, it is unlikely that Alfonso will make the 40-man roster out of spring training.