ST. LOUIS — Veteran reliever Joel Peralta was placed on the disabled list and sent back to St. Petersburg for blood work testing to confirm that he has the chikungunya virus as his symptoms indicate.
Peralta returned from spending the All-Star break in his native Dominican Republic with a fever, achiness in his joints and a rash, leading to the initial diagnosis of the virus, which is contracted via mosquitoes in Caribbean countries.
"He's ill," manager Joe Maddon said. "Apparently it was a mosquito bite, from what I understand. He was hurting, man."
Peralta, 38, was initially examined by Twins Dr. Vijay Eyunni in Minnesota, then seen by Rays team physician Michael Reilly on Tuesday after returning to St. Petersburg. But not much can be done to treat the virus, with symptoms lasting up to 7-10 days.
The Pinellas County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also interested in Peralta's status as cases of the diseases are being tracked.
Peralta was already feeling better by late Monday, but with his strength sapped, the team decided it was better to place him on the disabled list and give him more time to rest, and possibly pitch in a minor-league game.
With the move backdated to July 13, Peralta can return as soon as Monday. Left-hander Jeff Beliveau was called up to take his place.
Agent Mark Gilling talked to Peralta Tuesday night and said, "He's feeling much better, almost back to normal, but he has to get his strength back."
Though the virus is not considered contagious, there was enough concern among Rays players that head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield held a brief meeting before Tuesday's game.
"The players are concerned, but only because they are unaware," Maddon said, calling it Peralta-itis. "Apparently you have to be bitten by this dreaded mosquito in order to get it. If they've shaken Peralta's hand, I don't think it could be transmitted. It's not an airborne kind of thing.
"Obviously if we felt our players are in jeopardy or were concerned at all, we would have done something differently."