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Merrifield says he’s vaccinated and ready to play

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Whit Merrifield said Thursday he has been vaccinated against COVID-19 and will be cleared to play for Toronto when the Blue Jays return to Canada.

Merrifield was acquired Tuesday in a two-minor league deal with Kansas City. The two-time All-Star started midfield for his first game with his new team Thursday night in Minnesota.

“I will be in Toronto when the team arrives in Toronto,” Merrifield said, avoiding saying when he received the vaccine.

Merrifield was among 10 Royals players who were unvaccinated last month, preventing them from traveling to Toronto. When asked about his decision, Merrifield drew the wrath of Kansas City fans by saying, “Something’s happening and I happen to get on a team that has a chance to play in Canada in the postseason, maybe changes that.”

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“It was something I probably could have handled a little better,” Merrifield said Thursday of his July comments. “But what happened happened. Happy to be a Blue Jay. I look forward to coming to Toronto and playing at Rogers Center as my home.”

Toronto tops AL wildcard standings as it attempts to make the postseason for the second time in three years. The next home game for the Blue Jays is August 12 against Cleveland.

Toronto coach John Schneider said Merrifield will play in a variety of positions almost every day, most likely second base and center.

“It’s a luxury to have a guy like that who you can literally stand anywhere with and feel good about,” said Schneider. “On the days he doesn’t start, he’ll probably play. I think now that we have a bank like this we can be a bit more aggressive in some areas than we were earlier in the year. An enrichment that you should definitely have.”

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