Yewri Guillen, an 18-year-old shortstop the Nationals signed in February to be part of their academy in the Dominican Republic, died Thursday morning after contracting bacterial meningitis earlier this week, the team said. But team doctor Wiemi Douoguih said the Nationals' medical staff has treated everyone who came in contact with Guillen, and have taken all possible steps to prevent the disease spreading.
Guillen first started showing symptoms of meningitis around April 10, Douoguih said. The Nationals' medical staff alerted a local hospital in Boca Chica, and within hours, Guillen was being evaluated and treated for infection, Douoguih said.
The Nationals' medical staff interviewed everyone who might have come in contact with Guillen in the last two weeks and administered antibiotics to those people, Douoguih said.
"Again, I applaud our medical staff down south, because they initiated the treatment protocol that's outlined by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) within hours of finding out this was something serious, so that everyone who came in contact with him received standard prophylaxis to prevent this from spreading and becoming more of a problem," Douoguih said.
He said the Nationals aren't sure how Guillen might have contracted meningitis, since the bacteria can spread through the air.
"There's bacterial particles that float around, and sometimes, somebody's susceptible, and you don't know, and they contract it, and it's very rapid," Douoguih said. "We all carry bacteria in our noses and mouths. It's very possible he got it from somebody who sneezed, and he was susceptible. It's a very unfortunate thing."
General manager Mike Rizzo said Fausto Severino - the administrator of the team's Dominican academy - was with Guillen and his family in the hospital until he died, and accompanied Guillen's body when it was transferred to his hometown. The Nationals' entire Dominican operation attended Guillen's visitation today and will attend the funeral on Saturday, Rizzo said.
Additionally, a team spokesman said the Lerner family will pay for all of Guillen's funeral costs. The spokesman also said Nationals players, who were informed of Guillen's death in a closed-door team meeting just before 4 pm on Friday, took up a collection of financial donations for Guillen's family.
The team announced Guillen's death to fans and reporters just before the first pitch of Friday's Nationals-Brewers game at Nationals Park, putting a picture of the switch-hitting shortstop on the scoreboard and observing a moment of silence before the national anthem.