Friday's MLB: Royals’ Merrifield says he ‘poorly articulated’ vax remarks
Kansas City, Mo. — Two-time All-Star Whit Merrifield of the Kansas City Royals apologized Friday for “poorly articulated” comments about the COVID-19 vaccine after missing the team’s trip to Canada.
Merrifield was among 10 Royals players who didn’t travel to Toronto because of their vaccination status for a four-game series against the Blue Jays before the All-Star break last week.
The 33-year-old outfielder/second baseman has been a fan favorite in Kansas City. But backlash came quickly and harshly after Merrifield said “the vaccine, what it’s supposed to do, it’s not doing. 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.”
He tried to clear up those comments before the Royals opened the second half with a home game against Tampa Bay.
“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.”
Merrifield has played his entire career for Kansas City, but some fans were not happy about a comment suggesting he might get the vaccine if he were traded to a contender.
“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.”
Royals manager Mike Matheny said Merrifield addressed the team about his comments and his love for Kansas City.
“He has talked with everybody, the group here and individually and we’ve moved on,” Matheny said. “It’s time to play baseball and guys are going to have to address comments made and address the fans and teammates and I believe Whit is doing his best to have those conversations and move forward.”
Merrifield is hitting .240 with 36 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
Kansas City left almost 40% of its 26-man roster at home for an extended All-Star break, including All-Star outfielder Andrew Benintendi, and several young players.
Rookies Kyle Isbel and MJ Melendez were two of those players who didn’t make the trip. Five prospects made their debuts as the Royals lost three of four to Toronto.
In total, only 25 players in Major League Baseball hadn’t made the trip to Canada due to vaccination status. The Royals bumped that number up to 35.
“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 said he’s ready for any reaction he might get from Royals fans.
“These guys in here know me and know what I’m all about and how much I care for them,” Merrifield said. “Every time I’ve taken the field and stepped between 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.”
Bauer’s accuser speaks out
A San Diego woman who alleges Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer beat and sexually abused her has denied that any of the accusations were “false, fabricated, or bogus,” her attorneys said in a court filing.
Bauer has denied abusing the woman he met through social media. He sued her for defamation in April, claiming she lied about details involving their sexual encounters in order to destroy his reputation and career while enriching herself. After he sued, Major League Baseball suspended Bauer for two years.
Bauer has said he engaged in consensual rough sex with the woman but did nothing to warrant a suspension.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are victims of sexual assault.
The woman’s response was filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana. In it, she denied allegations she made a “false, misleading or defamatory police report” and denied she had altered or filtered photographs in requesting a restraining order in June of 2021.
The woman admits she sent a text message to a friend about “going to Europe when she was a rich baseball wife.” However, she denied she had a plan to destroy Bauer’s reputation or career or exploit him for money, although she admits “she was angry at Plaintiff because he had sexually assaulted her.”
A Los Angeles Superior Court judge declined to grant the restraining order, saying the woman had been “materially misleading” in part of her request. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office declined to file criminal charges against Bauer.
Fred Thiagarajah, one of the woman’s attorneys, is included in Bauer’s defamation lawsuit. He is seeking to have Bauer’s case against him thrown out.
Bauer is also suing two media outlets for defamation over their coverage of the allegations.
Bauer is appealing his suspension by MLB. There is no timetable for a ruling.