Phillies travel to Toronto without JT Realmuto, who won’t let Canada tell him what to do


Phillies travel to Toronto without JT Realmuto, who won't let Canada tell him what to do

ST. LOUIS — Aaron Nola and JT Realmuto formed the Phillies’ starting battery in Monday night’s 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Earlier in the day, the two men made news when it was announced they would not be accompanying their teammates to Toronto for a two-game series that begins Tuesday night.

Canada requires a COVID-19 vaccination for entry.

None of the players are vaccinated and have no regrets.

“I just didn’t want it,” was Nola’s explanation for not getting the vaccine.

Realmuto has been a bit more expansive on the subject.

“I’m a healthy 31-year-old professional athlete and I just didn’t feel like I needed to get it,” he said. “I’ve had COVID a few times, super mild symptoms, back when it first came out. When it came time to decide whether or not I needed the vaccine, I spoke to doctors I knew and I told them my story and decided I didn’t think I needed it.

“I didn’t want to take it just because I was told to, basically.”

Realmuto, Nola, Alec Bohm and Kyle Gibson are also unvaccinated. Bohm is able to avoid the blacklist after dislocating his left ring finger Monday night. He could end up on the injured list instead.

Players on the restricted list will not be paid. Realmuto will lose more than $262,000 – over a quarter of a million dollars – because he is banned from traveling to Toronto.

“What is money if I don’t let Canada tell me what I do and don’t do in my body?” said Realmuto. “It’s not worth it for little money.”

Backup catcher Garrett Stubbs is expected to start Tuesday night in Toronto while Realmuto, Nola and Gibson travel to Miami where the Phillies will play Friday night. Realmuto, who played in Miami before arriving in Philadelphia, has arranged practice at a baseball facility in the area.

The unvaxed Phillies have the support of their teammates. Kyle Schwarber was pretty vocal about this earlier Monday.

“It’s an extremely unfortunate situation,” said Realmuto. “Obviously my team-mates know how I feel about them and how much I want to be out there with them, but it’s unfortunate that I can’t make the journey.”

The Phils travel to Toronto with a bit of a downer, even beyond Bohm’s injury and the unvaccinated exiles.

The team began its four-game trip to St. Louis with two shutout wins on Friday and Saturday. Those wins — 1-0 and 2-0 — gave the Phils a two-game lead over the Cardinals to control the final NL wildcard spot.

The Phillies’ Sunday afternoon and Monday night losses have put them back in a virtual tie with the Cards, though the Phils have a percentage point lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker if needed after winning four of seven matches of the season Series.

“It’s definitely disappointing (not winning the series), especially after starting 2-0,” said Realmuto. “Even after losing yesterday we were confident that we would win the series tonight. It’s hard to lose twice in a row but that’s a good team over there and it’s going to happen. All we have to do is turn the page and end this week heavily weighted ahead of the All-Star break.”

Aside from the decision to split, the most disappointing element of the series was the Phillies’ offense. It only generated seven runs in four games.

The Phils couldn’t maintain a 3-1 lead in the middle innings on Sunday and lost 4-3. Rhys Hoskins struck at home in the first inning on Monday night to give the Phils a 1-0 lead and Nola held them to four. Nola shifted the focus from his fastball to his breaking stuff in the fifth inning, giving up four hits and three runs.

In the seventh, Nola allowed Albert Pujols a leadoff double. Corey Dickerson followed with a double homer.

Pujols’ double was the 1,378. Extra base hit of his career, putting him third all-time ahead of Cardinal legend Stan Musial.

Nola is 5-7 with a 3.35 ERA. He’ll have one more start ahead of the weekend’s All-Star break in Miami.

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