The Kansas City Royals expect to have a full roster of players for their four-game series in Toronto, but they won't all be the major leaguers who played for the team Wednesday. Ten players won't be making the trip because they haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19, USA Today reports. The Canadian government requires arrivals to have had at least two doses of vaccine. The decision not to have the shots will cost the players salary and service time under baseball's collective bargaining agreement. Minor league players from AA and AAA teams will be called up to fill the 26-player roster for the series, which starts Thursday.
"Do we want our major league team on the field? The answer is 'yes,'" Royals manager Mike Matheny said Wednesday. "But right now this is the situation that we are in and we are looking forward to someone else stepping in and making the most of the opportunity." The players the team will do without include All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi and two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield, a second baseman, per the AP. Benintendi will lose $186,813 in pay, Merrifield $153,846.
Matheny said the Royals had experts meet with players to help them make their decision. On Wednesday, the team tweeted: "The Royals have hosted multiple free COVID-19 vaccine events for the community and encourage all to be vaccinated and safe so we can live our fullest lives, in and away from the ballpark." The tweet had a link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website. The team president said the Royals have always encouraged individual choices. "Unfortunately, some of this affects the team," Dayton Moore said. "We're disappointed in some of that." (Read more coronavirus vaccine stories.)