City Desk

Report: Nationals Missed Recruit’s Fatal Meningitis

Mother Jones is out today with a bruising report on how Major League Baseball teams recruit teens in the Dominican Republic, and the Washington Nationals look especially badly. Reporter Ian Gordon's story centers on Nationals prospect Yewri Guillén, who died from bacterial meningitis shortly after attending the team's Dominican training academy in 2011.

Guillén started having headaches in April 2011, according to Mother Jones. After he missed training camp games because of the headaches, the team only provided him with tea and aspirin. In reality, Guillén needed much more—after being sent back to his hometown by the Nationals so he could recover, he died of bacterial meningitis a few days later.

Mother Jones faults the Nationals' Dominican recruiting for several flaws, including not having a doctor or trainer at its Dominican academy or helping Guillén get into a good clinic. "If the Nationals had sent him to a physician instead of back home to impoverished La Canela," writes Gordon, "maybe the infection would've been treated successfully."

The Nationals also offered Guillén's parents an agreement that they would not sue the team in exchange for their son's $30,000 signing bonus. While the Nationals declined to comment to the magazine about conditions at their Dominican facility, the team's international scouting director describes the settlement as "the humane thing."

Apparently, that hasn't satisfied Guillén's family. "They came here to screw us over," Bienvenido Ortiz, Guillén's uncle, tells Mother Jones.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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