Sapp improves in battle with meningitis

Battling meningitis, Sapp improves

HOUSTON -- Catching prospect Max Sapp, hospitalized for more than two weeks with a severe case of meningitis, took a first step toward recovery on Wednesday when he was able to breathe on his own without the help of a respirator.

According to general manager Ricky Bennett, the 20-year-old Sapp will soon begin therapy to recover from the illness, which has left him with significant memory loss.

"He doesn't know who the president is; he doesn't know who his girlfriend is," Bennett said. "He doesn't have all of his memory back. He was unconscious for quite some time. It's a blessing he's with us. It's pretty scary stuff."

Meningitis is an infection of the fluid of the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. People sometimes refer to it as spinal meningitis. Meningitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

Sapp was breathing with the help of a respirator after undergoing surgery to repair a severe sinus infection and contracting meningitis, as reported by the Houston Chronicle Tuesday night. According to the report, Sapp was unable to breathe on his own because of occasional seizures.

Sapp is expected to be hospitalized for quite some time as he continues his recovery.

How this will affect Sapp, the club's first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, from a professional standpoint remains to be seen.

"We're not thinking about baseball right now," Bennett said. "We have to get him healthy and back to normal. That's all that matters right now."

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.