GARY — Alex Crosby stood up to go to the ballpark June 24 and felt his head swirling and the nausea onset.

He sat back down again, thinking it was the flu.

That's what RailCats manager Greg Tagert was told, the flu, maybe, or food poisoning, as to why Crosby wasn't on the bus.

The next day, the 'Cats bus driver took the large charter bus with just Crosby on board to urgent care in North Dakota.

Crosby was issued a prescription that the team planned to fill at its next stop, except the next stop was Winnipeg and the Canadian pharmacies weren't keen to fill an American-issued prescription.

He laid three days in a hotel room in Winnipeg.

"Worrying made it worse," Crosby said. "The stress didn't help at all.

"I felt very sick. Every place I couldn't get outta bed. If I were here or at home, I knew I'd be taken care of, but being on the road was pretty hard."

He was issued another prescription in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he spent a day in the hospital, pumped full of electrolytes.

The flu? A virus? An infection? Vertigo?

Crosby still doesn't know. It took 20 pounds off of the 23-year-old first baseman and it was almost eight days until he could get up to walk around again. He said first he walked a little, then a mile, then ran a mile.

"My family wanted me to come home, but I'm here to play baseball," Crosby said. "That's why I'm here. I'm not just going to give up and go home."

Crosby is in the second year of his rookie season with the RailCats (the American Association allows two years with a rookie classification), and was hitting .270 and had started 28 of 33 games at first base.

"Alex has been mentioned in a lot of talks as one of the best rookies in the league," Tagert said. "I know he's been away 30 days now, but that's just as much motivation for him to return and be even better."

Crosby returned to U.S. Steel Yard in time for the home series against Salina, 18 games after he'd last played in Fargo-Moorhead. He said he only just started to feel ready to play this week.

He'll be eligible to rejoin the 'Cats roster on July 25, the last day of the all-star break, after being moved from the disabled list to the inactive list on July 8.

"We knew that the inactive list was the last thing that anyone wants to hear," Tagert said. "He's been a part of all of our practices and workouts since he could come back. The last two days, he's been taking simulated at-bats."

Crosby is part of the young infield that includes six other rookies and veteran Frank Martinez, who had been called upon to take over at first base. Kris Goodman has also played the position, showing his versatility.

Crosby handed credit to his road roommate, Randy Santiesteban, who called the emergency room on a particularly bad night on the road. Tagert said that Santiesteban was given two days rest to recover from sleepless nights.

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Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.