Minor Leagues

Minor-league vaccine mandate to come in 2022, per report

A vaccine mandate could be coming to the minors next season. (Cheryl Pursell)

A vaccine mandate could be coming to the minor leagues ahead of next season.

According to a report by Hannah Keyser of Yahoo Sports on Wednesday, Major League Baseball is in the process of completing a policy that would require all minor leaguers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the 2022 season.

A policy like this has not been implemented for major-league players, as it would need approval from the Major League Baseball Players’ Association. Without a union for minor leaguers, the league can put a requirement into effect in the minors on its own.

While there is no mandate in the majors, MLB did loosen COVID-related restrictions for any team that reached an 85% vaccination rate among players, staff and other Tier 1 personnel at the major-league and Triple-A levels; the Phillies surpassed the threshold on Sept. 15. However, that doesn’t mean the organization didn’t run into problems with COVID-19 throughout this season.

Phillies players were placed on the COVID-related injured list at multiple points throughout the season, including when Alec Bohm, Aaron Nola, Connor Brogdon and Bailey Falter were all sidelined during a series in Boston in mid-July.

At the minor-league level, the Phillies’ training facility in Clearwater suffered a COVID-19 outbreak in late July, which led to a number of game cancellations. The Class A Clearwater Threshers postponed four games from July 30 to Aug. 3 to allow for additional contact tracing and testing. The Florida Complex League Phillies, who also play in Clearwater, resumed play on Aug. 13 after their season was halted on July 30 as well.

Earlier in July, the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs canceled their youth baseball camp as players and Tier 1 personnel with the team were not 85% vaccinated at the time, so they were not permitted by MLB to hold the event.

The final six-game home series for the Double-A Reading Fightin Phils was completely canceled in September by a COVID-related situation. The opposing New Hampshire Fisher Cats were in the midst of an outbreak, not allowing the games to be played.

Although the Fightins were not dealing with COVID-19 themselves, they did not get the chance to play in Baseballtown one last time due to the virus. Perhaps a situation like that will be less likely in 2022.


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