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Newest Toronto Blue Jay Whit Merrifield got a COVID-19 vaccine and can now play in his team’s home games.
Canada does not allow unvaccinated people into the country, which has prevented dozens of MLB players from playing against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre in Toronto, including Merrifield in July.
The country’s vaccination mandates may or may not have played a role in who the Blue Jays looked to acquire at the trade deadline. But it seemed Merrifield understood the possibility and wanted to be playing in his team’s most important games as the postseason approaches.
The Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield doubles during the 11th inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim, Calif., June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
“For a couple of weeks now, I’ve understood that this might be a possibility. I’ll be in Toronto when the team goes there,” Merrifield said, via MLB.com.
In July, Merrifield said he thought hard about vaccines and concluded he wouldn’t get one. But he said he had always kept his mind open, citing playing in important games in Canada.
“It’s what, based on the experiences and conversations and what I’ve seen, this is the conclusion I’ve come to,” Merrifield said at the time. “Right or wrong, I didn’t do it on a whim. It’s been a long thought process because, again, I understand what Canada has in place right now. That’s the only reason I would think about getting it at this point. To go to Canada.
Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals during an at-bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park July 3, 2022, in Detroit. (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
“That might change down the road. If something happens, and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes. But, as we sit here right now, I’m comfortable with my decision. My teammates support me, and the rest of the guys in here who have made the same decision. And that’s that.”
Merrifield was one of 10 Royals who recently did not make a trip to Toronto for a four-game series due to vaccination status.
Another one of those players was Andrew Benintendi, who the New York Yankees acquired last week. Before making that trade, the Bronx Bombers were 100% vaccinated.
Benintendi said he remains “open-minded” about the vaccine. As of last week, Benintendi and manager Aaron Boone did not speak about the situation.
Andrew Benintendi of the Kansas City Royals talks to teammate Whit Merrifield during a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park July 6, 2022, in Houston. (Logan Riely/Getty Images)
The Yankees may face the Blue Jays in the postseason, and they will head to Toronto Sept. 26-28.