Phegley, who turns 23 in February, played in just 48 Minor League games for Bristol, Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham during this past season. The 5-foot-10, 215-pound catcher lost playing time after being diagnosed with Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, or ITP.
This syndrome is an “autoimmune bleeding disorder characterized by the abnormally low levels of blood cells called platelets,” according to WebMD.com. Simply put, a common bruise incurred when Phegley’s platelet count was low could cause life-threatening internal bleeding, because of the platelet’s function in blood clotting.
So, after his symptoms came back in early October, the offseason focus for Phegley suddenly became treating his illness for four solid months, instead of mixing in treatment while he was playing baseball.
“I don’t have to worry about being on the field right now,” said Phegley by phone from his home in Terre Haute, Ind. “I can hit the treatments harder and get after it a little more. I’m hoping to knock it out during the offseason and never deal with it again.”
Although Phegley has been dealing with this condition since the end of Spring Training, he has been told by doctors it could disappear as quickly as it appeared. The symptoms, which don’t cause Phegley pain or fatigue, manifest themselves through little red spots on his body.
Those red spots reappeared on the side of his chest, under his armpit, on the day of the first scheduled AFL contest.
Disappearing sounds good. Wishing it happens.