FISM Staff Writers
The Kansas City Royals will be shorthanded in their 4-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays that begins Thursday due to Canada’s strict COVID-vaccine policies.
Ten Royals players will not be able to travel to Toronto due to the country’s ban on unvaccinated travelers entering the country. This includes four of the team’s best hitters and two of the team’s best pitchers according to an ESPN report.
ESPN writer Jeff Passan tweeted that the players barred from participating are OF Andrew Benintendi, IF/OF Whit Merrifield, C M.J. Melendez, DH Hunter Dozier, SP Brad Keller, SP Brady Singer, CF Michael A. Taylor, OF Kyle Isbel, RP Dylan Coleman and C Cam Gallagher.
Prior to this series, the Reds were the team most affected by the policy, losing 4 players when they traveled to Toronto in May. The Royals now make up over 25% of the players who have been affected by the policy thus far, raising the number of players placed on the COVID restricted list from 25 to 35 in a single shot.
In accordance with MLB’s collective bargaining agreement, the players will forfeit their game checks due to their absence from the series.
At the end of the day, it’s their choice,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said Wednesday. “It’s what they decide to do. And we’ve always been an organization that promotes and encourages individual choices. Unfortunately, some of this affects the team. We’re disappointed in some of that, but we realize it’s part of the game and part of the world we live in. We’re just really looking forward to providing these players an opportunity who are getting a chance to play in Toronto.”
Toronto coach Mike Matheny voiced support for the players, saying that the team “put it in [the player’s] hands to make the decisions they believe is best for them and their families.”
Merrifield said that it wasn’t a decision he came to lightly and that he had considered the ramifications of his decision before the season, saying, “It was a choice I made talking with my family, talking with my wife. I didn’t think that the risk was worth it, honestly. I don’t feel like COVID is a threat to me.”
The Royals have called up several minor league players to fill the vacated spots. The Royals enter the series with a 35-53 record and currently sit 13 games back in their division.