Royals’ Whit Merrifield apologizes for COVID-19 vaccine comments

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Whit Merrifield, the Kansas City Royals’ second baseman and outfielder, apologized Friday for comments he made before Kansas City’s trip to Toronto prior to the All-Star break while explaining his reasoning for not receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Merrifield was one of 10 Kansas City players unable to make the trip to Toronto due to being unvaccinated. 

The Kansas City Royals' Whit Merrifield watches from the dugout during the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers July 11, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. 

The Kansas City Royals’ Whit Merrifield watches from the dugout during the second inning of the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers July 11, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

“I’m sorry that I poorly articulated the point I was trying to make,” Merrifield said. 

“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.

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“I didn’t say people misunderstood it, I poorly articulated the point I was trying to say,” Merrifield added. “If what was standing between me and the playoffs was this vaccine, I would consider getting it. 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 two-time All-Star found himself in hot water when he explained his decision to remain unvaccinated when he insinuated that if he was on a team in playoff contention, he might consider getting the vaccine.

Andrew Benintendi of the Kansas City Royals talks to teammate Whit Merrifield during a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park July 6, 2022, in Houston. 

Andrew Benintendi of the Kansas City Royals talks to teammate Whit Merrifield during a game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park July 6, 2022, in Houston.  (Logan Riely/Getty Images)

“It’s what, based on the experiences and conversations and what I’ve seen, this is the conclusion I’ve come to,” Merrifield said. “Right or wrong. I didn’t do it on a whim. It’s been a long thought process because, again, I understand what Canada has in place right now. That’s the only reason I would think about getting it at this point. To go to Canada. 

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“That might change down the road. If something happens, and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to go play in Canada in the postseason, maybe that changes. But, as we sit here right now, I’m comfortable with my decision. My teammates support me and the rest of the guys in here who have made the same decision. And that’s that.”

Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals during an at-bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park July 3, 2022, in Detroit. 

Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals during an at-bat against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park July 3, 2022, in Detroit.  (Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

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Friday was Merrifield’s first time back in front of the home crowd since the comments, and Merrifield told reporters he was prepared for any type of reaction from the Kansas City faithful.

“Whatever reaction it is, is something I’ll have to deal with,” Merrifield said. “But these guys in here know me and know what I’m all about and how much I care for them.

“That every time I’ve taken the field and gotten through the lines I’ve given it everything I had every day. If people feel a need to express their feelings towards me, that’s perfectly fine.”

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Merrifield was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers Friday night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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