Ten Kansas City Royals players, including four of their top hitters and their best two starting pitchers this season, will not travel to Toronto this week for the four-game series with the Blue Jays because they have not received the COVID-19 vaccination.
The vaccine requirement for border crossing into Canada will affect outfielder Andrew Benintendi, super-utilityman Whit Merrifield, catcher MJ Melendez, first baseman/outfielder Hunter Dozier, right-hander Brad Keller, right-hander Brady Singer, center fielder Michael A. Taylor, outfielder Kyle Isbel, reliever Dylan Coleman and catcher Cam Gallagher.
Players who are unvaccinated and don’t make the trip to Toronto are placed on the restricted list and forfeit service time and salary for the four games missed. Prior to Kansas City, the most players a team had missed in Toronto was four, and 25 total players had hit the restricted list due to being unvaccinated.
Benintendi is the only 2022 All-Star in the group. The Royals, with a 35-53 record after beating Detroit on Wednesday afternoon, have explored trading the 28-year-old, who is beating .317 and due to hit free agency this winter.
Melendez, a rookie, batted leadoff the past two days as Merrifield, whose 553-game iron man streak came to an end because of a toe injury, sat out. Dozier has regularly served as the Royals’ cleanup hitter. The only vaccinated outfielder on the Royals’ active roster is Edward Olivares.
Kansas City will summon reinforcements from its AAA and AA affiliates to fill out the big league roster. The Royals’ series at Toronto begins Thursday.