TORONTO (AP) — The struggling Minnesota Twins have arrived in Toronto without regular right fielder Max Kepler and relief pitchers Emilio Pagán, Caleb Thielbar and Trevor Megill on the restricted list to comply with the Canadian government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The four players will miss the three-game series against the Blue Jays. The Twins were waiting to announce replacements until closer to game time on Friday night. Canada requires anyone traveling to the country to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the second one at least 14 days before entry.
Pagán discussed his decision not to get a shot with reporters before the Twins departed for Toronto.
“I know that there are going to be people that are very angry for this opinion and the stance, but that’s fine,” Pagán said. “I feel like I had a choice to make, and they have also a choice if they’re going to be mad at me or not.”
Pagán was the losing pitcher on Thursday afternoon in Detroit after allowing a two-run homer to Daz Cameron in the eighth inning of a 3-2 defeat. He’s one of the late-inning relievers for the AL Central-leading Twins, who have lost seven of their last 10 games, all to division bottom-dwellers Detroit and Kansas City.
“I’ve gone to every guy in this locker room and explained where I was, and how I came up with my decision, and apologized because I do know it’s hurting the team,” the 31-year-old Pagán said. “I do not believe this is a baseball decision. This is the Canadian government. It’s not even an MLB rule.”
Kepler, a native of Germany in his seventh full season in the majors, currently has career bests in batting average (.253) and on-base percentage (.357) and is tied for second on the team with six homers.
Thielbar, the most-used left-hander in the bullpen, has a 5.59…