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Hector Neris doesn’t want a COVID-19 vaccine and the Phillies could be challenged to meet the vaccination threshold

The Phillies need 85% of their traveling party to be vaccinated before loosening their safety restrictions. Neris offers a glimpse into the complications the team could face to meet that threshold.

Phillies reliever Hector Neris said “I don’t want to get a shot. Not right now,” in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations prior to Monday night's game against the Mets.
Phillies reliever Hector Neris said “I don’t want to get a shot. Not right now,” in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations prior to Monday night's game against the Mets.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Phillies pitcher Hector Neris said he does not plan to be vaccinated against COVID-19, potentially offering a glimpse into the complications the team may face to reach the threshold required before they can loosen their safety protocols.

“I don’t want to get a shot. Not right now,” Neris said before Monday’s series opener against the Mets. “... I haven’t talked to the guys. It’s like different opinions. Everybody is different. Can a guy maybe have the shot? I don’t know. I haven’t asked the other guys any questions about that.”

Major League Baseball told teams last week that they can ease their league-mandated health and safety protocols once 85% of their traveling party is vaccinated. Among other things, vaccinated teams will no longer need to wear masks in the dugout and bullpen, can stop wearing contact tracing devices, watch video together in the clubhouse, and eat at indoor restaurants.

Major League Baseball and the players’ association “strongly encouraged” players and staff to receive the vaccination. Phillies manager Joe Girardi and some of his coaches received their first dose of the vaccine last month in Florida, where they qualified based on age. The players should become eligible later this month.

“I’m sure there’s players that are hesitant and there’s players that are probably eager to get it,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “I think it’s a personal decision that I will not get involved in because it’s a personal decision. So whatever the player decides, I will back him no matter what.”

The Phillies had a COVID-19 outbreak last summer in Clearwater, Fla. and paused their season for a week last July following Miami’s outbreak.

“It’s a hard situation,” Neris said. “It happened last year with the Marlins. I don’t want to think too much about that, just take care of myself and the other guys I think are on the same page. Try to be responsible, respect your teammates and the game and that situation with the COVID-19. If you want the season to go on you have to be responsible.”

» READ MORE: Philly allows more fans into Citizens Bank Park and Wells Fargo Center

The Phillies likely are not the only team that could be challenged to meet the threshold. The Mets planned to show their players an educational video this week in Philadelphia after two players - Michael Conforto and J.D. Davis - were noncommittal about being vaccinated.

The Mets had their opening series in Washington postponed after four Nationals players tested positive for the coronavirus. But that outbreak did not sway their thinking.

Conforto, who said he tested positive for COVID-19 before spring training, said “it’s a personal choice” to be vaccinated and did not feel comfortable sharing if he planned to receive the vaccine. Davis said the relaxed protocols would not sway the players as the “guys really aren’t getting the itch to really go out and mingle or outdoor dining or go to bars or restaurants and have that kind of normal lifestyle.”

Nationals starter Max Scherzer, who will pitch Tuesday when the team opens the season, said he plans to be vaccinated.

“For me, I tend to follow the science,” Scherzer said Monday. “I try to listen to what the scientists say and what the experts say. For me, I see the benefit of it and can’t wait to get it.”

Extra bases

Girardi used J.T. Realmuto as a pinch-hitter in Sunday’s win, leaving the team without a second catcher on the bench. “I kind of rolled the dice a little bit. We were fairly late in the game. And I was willing to take that chance and hope that J.T. might pop one and we ended up, you know, scoring a run. But it’s not something that I like to do,” Girardi said. ... Chase Anderson will start Tuesday against Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman.