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#pounditFriday, September 30, 2022

Whit Merrifield backtracks on vaccine comments

Whit Merrifield looking on

Jul 13, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; American League second baseman Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals (15) looks at the stands during warmups before the 2021 MLB All Star Game at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals infielder Whit Merrifield clarified his controversial comments regarding the COVID-19 vaccine prior to the Royals’ first game of the second half of the season on Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Merrifield was one of many Royals players who could not travel to Toronto before the All-Star break for a series against the Blue Jays due to his COVID vaccine status.

The two-time All-Star said he had no plans to get the vaccine. But he was criticized for saying he might change his mind if he were traded to a contender that might have to travel to Toronto during the playoffs.

On Friday, Merrifield told reporters that his words were “poorly articulated” and apologized for saying that he would be willing to get the vaccine if dealt to a playoff-caliber team.

“I’m sorry that I poorly articulated the point I was trying to make,” Merrifield said via the AP. “It’s an uncomfortable topic and I started rambling on and trying to make a point about my passion for winning that had no relevance to the topic that was being discussed. For that I am truly sorry.

“If what was standing between me and the playoffs was this vaccine, I would consider getting it,” Merrifield said. “I didn’t say I would get it for another team or wouldn’t get it for this team, it was simply a point about showing how much I value playing in the playoffs.”

The Royals entered Saturday 36-57 and unlikely to make the postseason. But Merrifield’s original comments may have sent a bad message to the organization and its fans.

Merrifield was hitting .237 with five home runs and 36 RBI entering Saturday, and may not be the only currently unvaccinated Royals player who could find themselves on a contending team after the August 2 trade deadline. One American League team is reportedly a “serious contender” to land outfielder Andrew Benintendi.

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