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Vaccine rule costs Royals key players for trip to Toronto

MLB: JUL 13 Tigers at Royals

KANSAS CITY, MO - JULY 13: The Kansas City Royals come off the field after winning a MLB game between the Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals on July 13, 2022, at Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, MO. Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kansas City Royals will be without 10 players when they visit the Toronto Blue Jays, who are under new interim manager John Schneider, for a four-game series that starts Thursday night.

Schneider was promoted from bench coach to interim manager after manager Charlie Montoyo was fired. Montoyo had been on the job since 2019.

“I truly wanted this to work with Charlie and wasn’t able to make that happen,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “I’m extremely disappointed with where we are. I think we are better than how we’ve played.”

Atkins accepted his share of the responsibility for the performance in a season in which there were high expectations. The Blue Jays won 91 games last season and missed reaching the playoffs by one game.

“This is a collective setback, and ultimately that starts with me,” Atkins said. “I’m the one who needs to be most accountable for that.”

Schneider said, “I have all of the respect in the world for Charlie Montoyo as a baseball coach, manager and as a human being. This is bittersweet. It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and I’m excited to be able to do this with an organization I’ve known for over 20 years.”

The Blue Jays won their first game under Schneider, 8-2 on Wednesday night, completing a two-game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies. Teoscar Hernandez hit a pair of two-run homers and Ross Stripling allowed two runs, both unearned, in seven innings.

The Royals, who will be short the 10 players who do not meet Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rules, also are coming off a win. They defeated the visiting Detroit Tigers 5-2 on to take three of four in the series.

Blue Jays right-hander Kevin Gausman (6-6, 2.86 ERA) is scheduled to return to the mound on Thursday. It will be his first outing since July 2, when he sustained a bruised right ankle on a comebacker. He has faced Kansas City just once in his career, taking a loss in 2017 after yielding five runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings.

The Royals had not announced who would be on the mound Thursday for their makeshift roster.

Outfielders Andrew Benintendi, Michael A. Taylor and Kyle Isbel, first baseman Hunter Dozier, second baseman Whit Merrifield, catchers MJ Melendez and Cam Gallagher and pitchers Brad Keller, Brady Singer and Dylan Coleman will be placed on the restricted list, according to manager Mike Matheny.

While Merrifield and Taylor are injured and were not in the lineup on Wednesday, they had not been placed on the injured list.

The Royals will fill those vacancies with minor league players, some of whom are not on the 40-man roster.

“We’re really looking forward to providing an opportunity for some of our players that we want to continue to look at and that we think are a big part of our future anyway,” said Dayton Moore, the Royals’ president of baseball operations. “And so we’re looking at this as a really important opportunity for them and us.”

With both catchers not making the trip, the Royals could use Freddy Fermin, who has appeared in 40 games for Triple-A Omaha. He could be joined by Sebastian Rivero, the catcher at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, who is on the 40-man roster. Rivero went 0-for-7 in three games for Kansas City earlier this year.