4 Phillies will miss Toronto series because of COVID vaccine requirements


ST. LOUIS -- The Phillies will be without their starting catcher and starting third baseman for a key, two-game series that starts Tuesday night in Toronto.

J.T. Realmuto and Alec Bohm will not travel with the team because they have not had the COVID-19 vaccine, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Monday. Canada requires the vaccine for entry.

Pitchers Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson are also prohibited from entering Canada. However, neither was scheduled to pitch in the series.

All four players will be placed on MLB's restricted list and forfeit two days' pay. Players are paid for 182 days.

The Phillies are allowed to replace Realmuto (catcher Rafael Marchan will come up from the minors) and Bohm (no replacement has been named yet) on the roster. Nola cannot be replaced because he was set to pitch Monday night and would not have been available in the Toronto series. Gibson, who pitched on Saturday in St. Louis, can be replaced for Wednesday's game only.

Dombrowski was asked if the unvaccinated players were letting the team down.

"No," he said. "It's a situation (COVID-19) we've been through for two years. People have to make individual decisions based on what they think is the best thing for them. I understand that. We deal with issues all the time.

"I'd prefer to have a full club, there's no doubt. But that's the reality of today's world and we need to make the adjustments because we still have a lot of good players and we look forward to taking them there."

Manager Rob Thomson echoed Dombrowski.

"They made a decision based on what they thought was best for their quality of life, so you have to respect that," Thomson said. "It's their right. The Players Association and the league decided that this was the right thing to do so we have to absorb it and move on. We've done it with other player injuries and moves and I have full confidence with what we have in this clubhouse."

Thomson said the Phillies would fill Tuesday night's start with the bullpen. That made it imperative that Nola pitch deep into Monday night's game in St. Louis.

Zack Wheeler will start Wednesday night's game in Toronto. Garrett Stubbs will start behind the plate. Thomson said he was not sure who would start at third in place of Bohm.

Wheeler said unvaccinated teammates were not letting down the team.

"It's their choice to get it or not," he said. "It's nobody's spot to judge what they want to do with their body, with their life, whatever it is. If they don't want to get the vaccine, it's perfectly fine. We have other guys who can step up. That's what baseball teams are all about. That's why we have 26 guys. That's just my view. I'm not here to judge."

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