KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two days after he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, reports say former Kansas City Royals star Whit Merrifield has gotten vaccinated.
MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson said Merrifield told reporters he received his COVID-19 vaccine and will be Toronto when the team heads north of the border next week.
“I’ve understood for a couple of weeks now that this might be a possibility. I’ll be in Toronto when the team is there,” Merrifield said, according to MLB.com.
Merrifield’s new team is currently in the middle of a long road trip and won’t return to Toronto until Aug. 12.
The Blue Jays also activated Merrifield for Thursday night’s game at the Minnesota Twins. He’ll play centerfield and bat eighth in the starting lineup, according to Toronto.
Merrifield made headlines last month after missing the Royals’ away series vs. the Blue Jays because he and nine other Kansas City players were not vaccinated against COVID-19.
Immediately after the news broke, he said he may have gotten vaccinated if he were on a team headed to the postseason. Merrifield quickly received a wave of backlash across sports media and online.
A few days later, the longtime Royals player took to 610 Sports Radio to clarify his comments.
“What really kept me up last night was people thinking I don’t love Kansas City and I haven’t really loved every minute that I’ve been in Kansas City. That I don’t love my teammates and I don’t want to fight for my teammates,” Merrifield told Cody & Gold.
Merrifield previously said his decision to not get vaccinated — until now — was a personal one, and his comments were based on the “business of baseball” as he had been involved in a few trade rumors.
Toronto is right in the middle of the American League playoff race and are on track to make the postseason.
And as the only MLB team located in Canada, the Blue Jays have tough constraints. Foreign nationals who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 are not allowed to enter Canada, save for limited exceptions that require a 14-day quarantine.
When playing in Canada, unvaccinated players are placed on the restricted list, where they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time.
But Blue Jays manager John Schneider said Wednesday the team wouldn’t force Merrifield to get vaccinated.
Also on Wednesday, the former KC star shared a special message for fans after seven seasons with the Royals.
“This is where I turned my dream into reality, where I got my first hit, hit my first homerun, and found many brothers for life. I’ll never be able to fully put into words what you’ve meant to me, nor will I ever be able to repay what you’ve given me,” Merrifield said in part.
The Royals drafted Merrifield in the 9th round of the 2010 draft, and he made his big league debut in 2016.
The two-time All-Star played in a franchise-record 553 straight games before missing a game in July with a toe injury. He amassed 1,001 hits, including 74 home runs, in his MLB career.
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