Rhys Hoskins is not sure if the Phillies will reach an 85 percent vaccination rate in the clubhouse, but he's going to do his part.
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"I will get it," he said Friday. "I think there's enough information and data and a lot of medical experts are pushing for people to get it. I think as a general statement, believing in what science is saying is usually a pretty safe and logical bet, so when it becomes available, I will be getting it."
Major League Baseball has said it would relax some of the health and safety protocols that players, coaches and staff are subject to if 85 percent of a team's traveling party gets vaccinated for COVID-19.
The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, according to reports, have both reached the 85 percent goal. Teams are not required to disclose the percentage of players and staff that have been vaccinated, but a number of other clubs are thought to be at or near 85 percent. The Milwaukee Brewers announced that their players were vaccinated last weekend, but the team did not disclose a percentage. No one is required to get vaccinated. It is a personal choice.
Earlier this week, Phillies reliever Hector Neris said he would not get vaccinated. A number of New York Mets players have expressed reservations about receiving the vaccine. According to Hoskins, who is the Phillies' representative to the players union, some players are reluctant to receive the vaccine because they fear side effects that could impact them during the season. Yankees third baseman Gio Urshela was not able to play Friday night because he came down with COVID-19 symptoms after having the vaccination on Wednesday. Urshela was placed on the COVID injury list and the Yankees were allowed to activate a replacement.
Teams are traveling with a five-man taxi squad that can be utilized if a player is placed on the COVID list. The Phillies opened a series in Atlanta on Friday. They brought to Atlanta a taxi squad of catcher Edgar Cabral, pitcher Enyel De Los Santos, outfielder Travis Jankowski, infielder Luke Williams and pitcher J.D. Hammer.
The city of Philadelphia will open vaccine eligibility to all adults on April 19.
"Do I think we'll get to 85 percent? I'm not sure," Hoskins said. "I know there's some guys in the clubhouse that can't wait to get it and there's some guys that are kind of in the wait-and-see and try to gather as much data about this as possible before they make a decision. That's probably how it's going to be for the next couple of months."
Phillies manager Joe Girardi has received his first dose of the vaccine and is awaiting the second. He has said he will not pressure any of his players or staff to get the vaccine, that it's a personal decision that he'll support either way.
Phillies management has made available information/education about the vaccine to any player that desires it. And if any player who is on the fence needs to talk to someone who has committed to the vaccination process, there's always Girardi.
"Maybe talk to Joe and ask him what it was like," Hoskins said. "Hopefully, it does push guys so we can get over that 85 percent number.
"It's such a tough situation because each guy has their own opinion on it, and it's been such a polarizing topic, not only in our game but in our nation.
"I do think guys are looking forward to getting back to normal and being able to walk the clubhouse and have as many hitters' meetings as we want. Those types of things that just aren't normal anymore. There are a lot of guys looking forward to getting that feeling back. But whether or not we get to 85 percent is still to be seen."