Jason Heyward became the second Cubs player to reveal publicly that he hasn’t received a COVID-19 vaccination. On Friday, Anthony Rizzo said on ESPN 1000 that he hasn’t been vaccinated.
Heyward told reporters Sunday that, with the state of Illinois allowing full capacity at Wrigley Field, fans are at greater risk of contracting the virus than players, who are tested multiple times per week. He also said enforcement of protocols for fans was lacking from the start.
“To me, it feels like a lot of wasted concern on a group of people that is pretty much checked off on almost every single day,” Heyward said.
Neither Heyward nor Rizzo considered themselves anti-vaccine, but both think receiving the shot is an individual choice.
“It’s just taking more time to see the data on all of it,” Rizzo said after the game Friday. “There’s definitely personal reasons, as well, but it’s just one of those things where as we continue to get more data, I’ll continue to be more educated on it.”
The Cubs are one of eight major-league teams that remains below the 85% threshold to ease restrictions, including wearing masks in the dugout and limiting mobility on road trips. Team president Jed Hoyer has expressed pessimism about the Cubs reaching the mark.
“I believe the science was clearly behind [the vaccine], but obviously not everyone agrees with that,” Hoyer said. “If everyone did agree, we’d be well above 85%.”
There’s a possible competitive disadvantage to staying below the vaccination threshold, and Rizzo said his choice was a very tough one.
“This is bigger than baseball,” Rizzo said. “This is a life decision, this isn’t a career decision, and it definitely weighed hard.”
Though the players are maintaining a united front, there clearly are chasms in the Cubs’ clubhouse. Before the game Friday, Javy Baez said he received a vaccination to protect his children. He added that while other vaccinated players respect their teammates’ choices, they have discussed the matter in the clubhouse.
“If you want to call it, we argued about it,” Baez said. “But at the end of the day, we are all men here. We respect each other.”