The Toronto Blue Jays will train for the upcoming season at Rogers Centre, the team announced Thursday.
The Blue Jays, the lone MLB team north of the Canada-U.S. border, had to ask for special permission from the Canadian government to use their Toronto stadium during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Training camps are set to begin around the league on Friday.
The border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least July 21, and anyone entering Canada for non-essential reasons must self-isolate for 14 days.
The Blue Jays said in a release that players and club personnel are completing intake screening at their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., and will board private charter flights to Toronto this weekend.
“Only those that test negative for COVID-19 during the intake process will be permitted to join the travelling party to Canada,” they said.
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The plan — which required government and public health approval at the municipal, provincial and federal levels — involves players and staff isolating from the general public in a closed environment at Rogers Centre and its attached hotel.
The team said a decision has yet to be made on where they will host regular-season home games, but they would prefer to be at Rogers Centre.
“The team continues to pursue this option with the health and safety of the general public and the team at the forefront,” they said.
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said players agreed to stay confined together in a hotel away from family for three weeks, adding the club would not host exhibition games against other organizations while training in Toronto.
“All our exhibition games will be intrasquad,” Shapiro said in a Thursday teleconference.
“Our players will be at less risk than the majority of the population.”
Shapiro says if the Blue Jays are not granted a regular season exemption by the federal government the most likely alternative would be to play games in Dunedin.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says he believes the preventative measures in place will help keep residents and players protected.
“I think that’s good for the city, and I think if people want to be critical of that, then so be it,” Tory said Thursday. “You’re going to have people who are subject to a very strict regime as to how they interact with each other, how they don’t interact with the rest of the city, how they are held in a virtual bubble as to where they can be when they’re in Toronto. That will really well protect the other citizens and the players from COVID-19.”
Unlike the NHL and NBA, which are planning to play in either hub cities or one large complex once their seasons resume, MLB teams will be travelling for road games against division rivals and teams in the corresponding division of their opposite league.
Toronto would play the bulk of its schedule (40 games) against fellow AL East teams — 10 games each against the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles — and the remaining 20 games against the NL East’s New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies.
The abbreviated 60-game regular season is slated to start July 23 or 24 and last 66 days.
Several Blue Jays players and staff tested positive for the coronavirus recently. The Blue Jays shut down their facility in Dunedin on June 19 after a player showed symptoms of the virus.
Players across MLB reported to training camps Wednesday at their respective home ballparks rather than their training grounds in Florida and Arizona, two states being ravaged by COVID-19 lately.
Florida reported a record-high 10,109 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday.
Ontario’s new case total for the same day was 153.
We’re coming home 💙<br><br>Our Summer Training Camp will be held at Rogers Centre! <a href=”https://t.co/OPKIjVPUl9″>pic.twitter.com/OPKIjVPUl9</a>
Published at Thu, 02 Jul 2020 20:37:52 +0000