Whit Merrifield gets vaccine, will play Blue Jays home games

Whit Merrifield answered the question baseball observers have been asking about since Tuesday. Now it’s time to play ball.

The former Kansas City Royal, acquired by Ross Atkins at the trade deadline for a pair of prospects, says he received the COVID-19 vaccine and will be able to suit up for Blue Jays home games.

“I’ve understood for a couple of weeks now that this might be a possibility,” Merrifield said, speaking to the media from Minnesota for the first time since being traded. “I’ll be in Toronto when the team is there.”

Merrifield missed a recent series at Rogers Centre because he wasn’t vaccinated. At the time, the former Royal insinuated his stance about the shot might change if he was on a contending team that had a chance of playing outside the United States during the post-season.

“If what was standing between me and the playoffs was this vaccine, I would consider getting it,” Merrifield said in July while clarifying previous comments he made about the vaccine.

Based on Canada’s border rules, which are similar to those in the U.S., Merrifield could not enter the country without quarantining if he were unvaccinated. All Blue Jays players are vaccinated for COVID, allowing them to cross the border freely throughout the season.

Blue Jays management had been mum on Merrifield’s vax status since the acquisition, citing the decision was “totally up to him.”

“I’m sure he’s had conversations with his family and other people,” Jays manager John Schneider said on Wednesday.

Merrifield told reporters in Minnesota that the first two calls he made after being traded were to former Blue Jays Justin Smoak and Ryan Goins, who offered rave reviews about the organization.

He will make his debut for the Blue Jays on Thursday, playing centre field and batting eighth as the team kicks off a three-game series in Minnesota. He’ll play in front of his new home fans for the first time on Aug. 12, when the team returns to Toronto for a series against Cleveland.

With files from Gregor Chisholm

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By Jon Doe