Yankees’ Andrew Benintendi says he’s ‘open-minded’ about COVID-19 vaccination after trade

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The New York Yankees acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Royals. Wednesday night as part of a four-player trade That sent pitchers Backway, TJ Sikkima, and Chandler Champlain to Kansas City. Coincidentally, Benintendi will make his New York debut Thursday night against his old team, as he is batting leadoff and playing left field for the Yankees against the Royals.

Benintendi met with the media before the game and discussed several matters, including his willingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19. For those unfamiliar, he had to sit out the road series against the Toronto Blue Jays because the Canadian government requires international travelers to be vaccinated. (Many other governments, including the US, also require it.)

“I’m still standing in the same place,” Benintendi told reporters. Including The Athletic’s Lindsay Adler. “I’m open-minded about it. I’m not against it. But time will tell.”

Benintendi also denied rumors that surfaced after the trade that indicated he had agreed to the inoculation as a condition of the trade. He added that he had not spoken to anyone with the Yankees about the possibility of getting a vaccine. Jon Heyman of the New York Post tweeted on Wednesday that Benintendi had supposedly told people he would vaccinate..

Benintendi’s vaccination status could prove crucial for the Yankees, who will travel to Toronto in September for a three-game set against the Blue Jays. Given New York’s lead in the American League East, a more dire scenario would see the Yankees meet the Blue Jays as part of the postseason. As things stand, the Blue Jays hold a half-game lead over the Seattle Mariners for the AL’s top wild-card spot. They have a 3 ½ game lead over the Cleveland Guardians, the top outside team.

If Benintendi doesn’t get vaccinated in the coming weeks, he would have to miss any potential road playoff games against the Blue Jays — a development that would be troubling for the Yankees if they were to go north in the series. Go backwards and forwards without adding their key deadline. It remains to be seen if things will come to that, but at one point the rumor mill even had the Yankees backing out of Benintendi as a result of the aforementioned possibility.

Benintendi, a 28-year-old incoming free agent, is in the midst of a quality season. He hit .320/.387/.398 (123 OPS+) with three home runs and four stolen bases (on six attempts) in 93 games with the Royals.