Max Kepler, three other Twins will miss Toronto series because they are not vaccinated

Max Kepler, three other Twins will miss Toronto series because they are not vaccinated

TORONTO – The Twins started a weekend series against the Blue Jays on Friday without four players who were unable to travel to Canada because of their vaccination status.

Right fielder Max Kepler and relievers Emilio Pagan, Caleb Thielbar and Trevor Megill are all on the restricted list and traveled back to Minnesota after Thursday’s game. Canadian law requires all travelers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 before entering the country.

“I’ve been very upfront with everybody in the organization since the day they traded for me,” Pagan said. “I told them I wasn’t going to hide from it if anybody wanted to ask me any questions. I felt like I had that responsibility having made the decision to not get vaccinated that no one else should have to answer questions for me.”

Pagan said he went to every one of his teammates to explain his absence and how he made his decision. Pagan, Kepler and Thielbar all mentioned how the situation was not an MLB rule but a law from another country.

Thielbar traveled to Canada last season for the Blue Jays series, before the current law stood.

“It’s not fun. It’s frustrating,” Thielbar said. “… Everyone tested last year regardless of vaccination status, and it was fine. The unvaccinated guys, we had to stay in our room the whole time we were up there. It was basically 100 percent certain that we were not bringing COVID into Canada.

“This year, there’s no testing, and I think everyone’s pretty aware that we have had COVID in our clubhouse for the last month, and it’s almost a certainty that we are bringing it into Canada this year.”

Shortstop Carlos Correa, starter Joe Ryan and outfielder Gilberto Celestino all recently tested positive for COVID-19, as did several individuals in the team’s traveling party.

Kepler declined to specifically state his reason for not being vaccinated. Thielbar said he had an adverse reaction to the flu shot in the past that has made him wary. Thielbar had COVID early on in the pandemic, as did Kepler early in the 2021 season.

To replace the four, the Twins called up outfielder Mark Contreras, Friday starter Chi Chi Gonzalez and relievers Ian Hamilton and Jharel Cotton.

The players on the restricted list will not be paid, so they’ll lose three days salary, or 1.6% of their season’s earnings. Kepler will lose $108,289 of his $6.7 million salary, Pagan will forfeit $36,898 of his $2.3 million, Thielbar will be docked $20,856 of his $1.3 million and Megill, who makes the minimum $700,000, would lose $11,230.

“In my opinion, it’s sad that I can’t join the team, especially now where we’ve lost a couple of games,” Kepler said. “Everyone needs to be together. It’s sad.”

Starter Chris Archer said everyone in the clubhouse respects the personal decision the unvaccinated players made and will do their best without them. Both teams are in the playoff discussion, and the tenor might change should they meet in the postseason.

“Any team that’s fortunate enough and good enough to be in the playoff discussion when you get into August and September is going to have to broach this topic and probably revisit some conversations,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said, “because to think that any team is going to come up and beat the Blue Jays up here in a series with half a dozen guys not available to them, the odds are not with you if you think you’re going to do that.”

Pagan said he has already considered that scenario and even thought about “doing something to be able to go this time around.”

“Things can change. Studies change,” Pagan said. “… When I consider it, I get anxious, and I don’t feel comfortable with the decision right now. I know people are going to get mad at that, but it’s just where I’m at.”

The CDC has found that vaccines are effective at safeguarding against COVID-19, and side effects from the shot are rare. They are FDA-approved and recommended for all people aged 5 and older.

“There’s been a lot of education. I think you do get to a point where it goes beyond educating, and people start feeling like you’re just telling them what to do,” Baldelli said, speaking generally of those that do not want the vaccine. “And I think that’s also a group that doesn’t want to be told what to do.”

Regardless of beliefs, the Twins will not be at full-strength this weekend.

“I feel like I’m letting the team down,” Pagan said, “by not being able to go.”

#Max #Kepler #Twins #Toronto #series #vaccinated

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.