Ten Kansas City Royals players have been placed on the restricted list and will be ineligible to play in the team’s four-game series this week against the Toronto Blue Jays, team manager Mike Matheny said on Wednesday.
All 10 are unvaccinated against Covid-19 and ineligible to play in Canada because of the country’s travel restrictions, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CNN.
Matheny said that the decision to vaccinate is an “individual choice.”
“The organization has done a real good job of bringing in professionals and experts to just talk guys through tough conversations and put it in their hands to make a decision that they believe is best for them and their family,” he said after the team’s 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers in Kansas City on Wednesday.
Seven of the players who spoke with reporters following Wednesday’s game cited their personal choice in the matter and said they had the support of the clubhouse, including vaccinated teammates, according to MLB.com.
“It was a personal decision, and I’m going to leave it at that,” said Andrew Benintendi, the team’s lone All-Star representative this season.
“I’m not against vaccines, so it’s just a personal preference,” said Hunter Dozier. “I’m not judging anyone who wanted to get it or who didn’t want to get it.”
Along with the players, Matheny said a few staff members will also not be traveling to Canada.
Because of the current restrictions in place in Canada, MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed that players who cannot enter the country due to their vaccination status will go on the restricted list without salary or service time.
Prior to the 10 Royals players being placed on the restricted list, the most missing from any US-based team playing in Toronto was four players, according to ESPN. Twenty-five total players had been placed on the restricted list this season for their vaccination status.
“Do we want our Major League team on the field? The answer is yes,” Matheny said. “But right now, this is the situation that we’re in. We’re looking forward to somebody else stepping in and making the most out of the opportunity.”
Dayton Moore, Royals president of baseball operations, said in a statement reported by The Kansas City Star that the organization couldn’t talk about the vaccination status of players. He said the team has done an “incredible job” trying to educate members of the organization to make an “individual choice” but was “disappointed” with how this will affect the team.
“But at the end of the day, it’s their choice,” Moore said, according to the Star. “It’s what they decide to do. And we’ve always been an organization that kind of promotes and encourages their individual choices. Unfortunately, some of this affects the team. We’re disappointed in some of that, but we realize it’s part of the game. It’s part of the world we live in, and we’re just really looking forward to providing these players that opportunity that are getting this chance to play in Toronto.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Covid-19 vaccination for all eligible age groups, and data shows unvaccinated individuals are at a much greater risk of dying from Covid-19.
The Royals’ four-game series is scheduled to begin on Thursday. They are in last place in the American League’s Central Division with a record of 35-53.
CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to this report.