Some in Major League Baseball, as in so many other industries, have pointed to the introduction of vaccines as the beginning of a return to normal. But MLB is learning that widespread vaccination is not as linear a process as it may seem – or a proposal as non-polarizing as some may hope.

Over the past few weeks, teams and their players have faced a choice of whether or not to be vaccinated. This was stimulated by the promise of relaxed restrictions when 85 percent of the players and staff on a team get the shot. Major League Baseball won’t say exactly how many teams have hit the threshold since this week, though the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox both said they were among those who did.

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Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais said earlier this week that he heard 10 out of 30 teams had crossed the threshold. MLB would not confirm this number and does not identify which teams hit the mark. The league said it was “encouraged” by the numbers, noting that logistical issues make it difficult to reach large numbers of players. However, managers and executives have recognized that the reluctance of players is partly to blame.

“Some players have hesitated,” New York Mets president Sandy Alderson said last week, adding that the team held a mandatory training session with a doctor in hopes of addressing vaccine concerns, which the Boston Red Sox did and others did too.

“I think that’s in the best interests of the team. It is in their families’ best interests. It is in the best interests of those who work with the players. So I hope that in addition to your personal medical considerations, you also take all of these things into account. “

Keeping vaccines on MLB teams can be very important. They can make the difference between having teammates eating out at restaurants or spending time with family and playing video games together. In short, they can determine whether players can take part in the valued off-field activities that will help make a long baseball season easier to navigate.

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An MLB clubhouse is home to players of different backgrounds, educational levels, political views, and religious beliefs. It’s an environment that remains largely stable based on the premise that it doesn’t matter what a teammate thinks as long as it helps you win. The choice of whether to vaccinate or not threatens this complex and fragile balance

When a team experiences a coronavirus outbreak, it can dramatically affect their net worth for the season as well. The Astros, Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins have played multiple games without a key starter due to coronavirus outbreaks. The Nationals and Twins eventually had to postpone several games and subsequently had to play double heads with exhausted rosters.

“These conversations with some guys have continued, but we are not here to rush our players. At this point, our players will make their own decisions, ”said Twins manager Rocco Baldelli on Tuesday. “We will support the decisions that they make. Are there some things that might become easier for us in terms of protocol once we hit that 85 percent threshold? Yes. But again, this will not be something that will continue regularly from our end, trying to get someone to do something they don’t like to do. “

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Some players say they talk to their teammates about vaccination. Others say they stay out of it. But many agree that the question is uncomfortable.

When asked if he had considered taking the vaccine, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, a member of the players’ union executive subcommittee, shuffled for his words.

“There are people who want that [get the vaccine]You know, I never try to get deep into where it is, ”he said, seeming to imply that while some players weren’t getting the vaccine, he didn’t count how many. “For me, I tend to follow science. I try to listen to what the scientists say what the experts say. I see an advantage in this and can’t wait to get it. “

Many players have repeated Scherzer’s unwillingness to prescribe the vaccine for teammates, reflecting his determination to speak only for himself.

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“I’ll tell you this: I’m in a vaccine commercial,” he told reporters, adding that it was “private medical information” as to whether he got the shot. Many of his teammates, including Michael Conforto, James McCann and JD Davis, said this was a “personal choice”.

Mike Shildt, manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Terry Francona, Cleveland coach, Justin Turner, the Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman, and many others have avoided an attitude with similar phrasing.

Other players have used social media to make their stance on the vaccine clear. For example, the Minnesota Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons made a statement on Twitter late spring: “For personal reasons and based on previous experience, I will not advocate or advocate this [the vaccine]. I hope I don’t have to explain myself. “

“If you have very specific reasons why you don’t want to get it, it’s a very individual decision,” Twins general manager Derek Falvey told St. Paul Pioneer Press earlier this month. “But if you are someone who hesitates because you lack a bit of information about it, then I believe to some extent that it is our responsibility to help them get that information and ultimately make the informed decision that they can will meet in the future. ”

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A National League player sent Karinchak’s mail when asked about clubhouse conversations about the vaccine, as an example of the kind of beliefs he and others in sports sometimes encounter when trying to promote vaccination. Many managers say they encounter players who have concerns about how the vaccine could affect their health. They hope that training sessions can calm the situation down.

Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association, said the loudest heard the union heard when asked about the vaccine was that the players would not agree to make it binding.

“Based on player feedback, it was important that we keep the vaccination voluntary,” said Clark. “There are players who are interested and have already taken the vaccine. There are others who are concerned and there are others who are not interested in taking the vaccine. Our responsibility is to give the guys a chance to make sure they have the information they need to make the decision they want to make for themselves and their families. “