CINCINNATI – Before explaining the reasons for not getting vaccinated and eventually costing himself two upcoming games with the Cardinals, third All-Star captain Nolan Arenado wanted to make one thing clear:
“It’s just a personal choice, and I’m not trying to make a political stand here or be a spokesperson for this or that,” said Arenado, who will not be allowed to travel with the Cardinals to Toronto for the two-game series. Against Blue Jays because of Canadian vaccine mandates. “I just choose to do what is best for me and my family, and I mean no harm. But it is a pity that I missed two matches.”
The Cardinals lost 6-3 to the Reds on Sunday at Great American Ball Park, losing the series to their rebuilding rival before discovering bowler Stephen Matz could miss several weeks with a left knee tear. But everyone’s biggest blow may be the decision by Paul Goldschmidt and Arenado – two of baseball’s brightest stars – not to get vaccinated.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but during this year in addition to this happening, I tried to talk to as many doctors and professionals as possible, figured out as much as I could, and decided the potential risks outweighed the potential risks,” said Goldschmidt, who finished twice on Sunday and extended his regular streak with a series of matches. On his home ground to four – five when he included his blast in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. “It stinks because I can’t play in Toronto and I can’t play the next two games – I hate that part of it, but unfortunately that’s the result.”
Veteran angler Austin Romain will also join Goldschmidt and Arenado on the banned list due to his non-restaurant status. Arenado will lose $384,615 from his $35 million annual salary for the past two games, while Goldschmidt will lose $285,714 from his $26 million contract in 2022.
Batting assistant coach Turner Ward will not be making a trip to Toronto with the team. Director Oliver Marmol said Ward has a medical condition incompatible with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Arenado and Goldschmidt, who finished first and second in the National League on Sunday in a win over a substitution, said they had to weigh the damage a lack of vaccination could do to the Cardinals trailing Milwaukee in the race for the NBA title. Swings in the ultimate Wild Card slot ranking.
“It’s disappointing and I’m not happy with it,” said Arenado. “I know it’s only two games, but it’s still two important games with the way we play, we’re in the second half and where we’re at. [in the standings]. It hurts and I’m not happy about that.”
Arenado and Goldschmidt have both said since the time the schedule was released last summer, they hope Canada has dropped its vaccine mandate now and their playing case would not be in jeopardy. Both admitted that they might re-evaluate their stance on the vaccine if the Cardinal advances into the playoffs and their situation once again threatens their availability. Under Canadian law, US citizens wishing to cross the Canadian border must be vaccinated at least two weeks in advance or face a two-week quarantine upon arrival.
“I was hoping they would get rid of this ban and go to something like what we have,” Arenado said. (Canadian residents cannot enter the United States without a vaccine, either.) “Maybe I’m thinking about it [taking the vaccine]Especially if it is a chance to play in the World Championships. This is a once in a lifetime thing.”
Goldschmidt added, “It’s a very personal medical decision, and unfortunately it becomes public with this. I think you have to put your health above everything. For me, it was the best decision for my health, and I will suffer the consequences.”