Royals’ Whit Merrifield apologizes for COVID-19 vaccine comments

Whit Merrifield tried to backtrack from his comments on the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, calling them “poorly articulated” prior to the Royals’ first game of the second half against the Rays.

The outfielder and second baseman missed the team’s trip to Toronto prior to the All-Star break, saying, “If it was doing what it was supposed to do and stopping the spread of COVID, [then] I would have a little more willingness to take it, but it’s not doing that.”

“I’m sorry that I poorly articulated the point I was trying to make,” Merrifield told reporters on Friday. “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.”

Merrifield also apologized for saying he would be more likely to get vaccinated if traded to a contender.

Whit Merrifield is one of 10 Royals players who is unvaccinated.
Whit Merrifield is one of 10 Royals players who is unvaccinated.
Getty Images

“I didn’t say people misunderstood it, I poorly articulated the point I was trying to say,” Merrifield said. “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.”

Merrifield, who is hitting .240 this season, spoke to the team about his comments, manager Mike Matheny said, and wants to move on.

The Royals have 10 unvaccinated players on their roster, including All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi. As GM Dayton Moore gets set to sell off pieces at the trade deadline, the inability of a large chunk of his roster to play in Canada is expected to be a hindrance.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t really realize what I said,” Merrifield said. “It took me reading it to understand how it could come across. … I’ve wanted to play in the playoffs since the time I put on cleats and that feeling is strong. The vaccine thing … people have very strong feelings about it and I feel the way I feel about it.”

Merrifield added that he doesn’t mind if fans are upset by his stance.

“These guys in here know me and know what I’m all about and how much I care for them,” he said. “Every time I’ve taken the field and stepped between the lines I’ve given everything I had every day. If people feel a need to express their feelings towards me, that’s perfectly fine.”

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