Phillies' J.T. Realmuto clarifies vaccine comments, looks to 'turn the page'

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Realmuto clarifies comments, looks to 'turn the page' originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

MIAMI -- After missing the Toronto leg of the Phillies' nine-game road trip because they did not have the COVID-19 vaccine, J.T. Realmuto, Alec Bohm, Aaron Nola and Kyle Gibson rejoined the team for Friday night's game against the Miami Marlins.

Gibson was the starting pitcher with Realmuto set behind the plate. Bohm, who dislocated his left ring finger Monday night in St. Louis, was almost fully recovered and available off the bench. He could be back at third base on Saturday. Nola is set to start the final game before the All-Star break on Sunday.

Realmuto created a firestorm after Monday's game in St. Louis when he characterized the salary he forfeited by not traveling to Toronto as "a little bit." His lack of compliance with Canada's vaccination policy actually cost him about $263,000.

Realmuto said he regretted his choice of words.

"I wish I hadn't used the words 'little bit,'" he said before Friday night's game. "When the thought 'little' came into my mind, it was over the two games compared to a 162-game season, not the amount of money.

"I didn't mean it to come out that way, but my logic for saying it was about the games, not the money.

"I'm from Oklahoma, raised on zero money. My family made no money till me, so I know how much money that is that I forfeited. I know it's a lot of money. My point was money was not going to make the decision for me."

Realmuto added that he stood by his decision not to get vaccinated and there was nothing political about it. The decision, he said, was strictly personal.

The Phillies do not play at home for a week.

What kind of reaction does Realmuto expect when the Phils return to Citizens Bank Park?

"I've got the support of this clubhouse and the people around me," he said. "The fans have always been great to me. There's going to be some people disappointed with what I said and that is understandable. We'll turn the page at some point."