KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals call up eight players from the team’s AAA and AA affiliates in order to travel to Toronto and play the Blue Jays this weekend.

The Royals called Nick Pratto, Nate Eaton, Freddy Germin, Brewer Hicklen, Michael Massey from AAA Omaha. The organization also called up Maikel Garcia, Sebestian Rivero, Angel Zerpa from AA Northwest Arkansas.

The team later released its Thursday night starting lineup:

  1. Edward Olivares, LF
  2. Bobby Witt Jr., SS
  3. Vinnie Pasquantino, DH
  4. Emmanuel Rivera, 3B
  5. Ryan O’Hearn, RF
  6. Nick Pratto, 1B
  7. Nate Eaton, CF
  8. Nicky Lopez, 2B
  9. Sebastian Rivero, C

Left-handed pitcher Angel Zerpa will be the starter for Thursday night, vying for his second MLB win. Pratto and Eaton will be making their MLB debuts.

The series of roster moves comes after the Royals placed 10 players on the league’s restricted list before leaving for Toronto.

Andrew Benintendi, Dylan Coleman, Hunter Dozier, Cam Gallagher, Kyle Isbel, Brad Keller, MJ Melendez, Whit Merrifield, Brady Singer and Michael A. Taylor could not travel to Canada for the series because they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Players on the restricted list are not paid and don’t accrue MLB service time.

The Kansas City Star also reports Royals pitching coach Cal Eldred, assistant hitting coach Keoni De Renne and strategist/bullpen catcher Parker Morin also did not make the trip to Toronto.

“It is an individual choice. The organization has done a real good job of bringing in professionals and experts to talk guys through tough conversations … to make the decision that is best for them and their family,” Matheny said at a postgame press conference Wednesday afternoon. “Now what it presents is an opportunity for some young guys to step in that normally wouldn’t be here.

Lopez said he respects the decisions of his teammates. When The Athletic asked Lopez about the situation, he had this advice for fans.

“It’s a good time for the fans to look at it, like, ‘Hey, this is a glimpse at the future.’ You get to see some of the young guys who will be part of the future. Fore me, having probably the most service time as a regular position player, which is kind of crazy, it’s a good opportunity for me to jump in the leadership role for a couple of days. Which I’m accustomed to doing,” Lopez said.

The organization said it anticipated adding two more players before the series ends on Sunday.

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