Their bags are packed and the Toronto Blue Jays are set to fly north. Read MoreSources: Blue Jays heading home to Toronto for Spring Training, games — Toronto Sun
Sources: Blue Jays heading home to Toronto for Spring Training, games
Published:June 28, 2020
Updated:June 28, 2020 5:17 PM EDT
Their bags are packed and the Toronto Blue Jays are set to fly north.
Sources told the Toronto Sun that government clearance for the Major League Baseball team to return to Canada is expected early in the week. With that in mind, the team is making arrangements to transport staff and players to the Rogers Centre around midweek. Some were training in the Dunedin, FL. area, others at various spots around North America.
The team expects to play all 30 of its 2020 home games at Rogers Centre against its regular American League East opponents, as well as those from the National League East. Major League Baseball has restructured its divisions to make travel easier in this most unusual shortened season.
There will be no fans in the stands at any of the games at Rogers Centre, per previous comments from team president Mark Shapiro.
Various Blue Jays players and staffers recently tested positive for COVID-19, which is an obvious concern. Shapiro has acknowledged that they expect more positives. Having said that, the team is confident that it can be safe and that its players will follow safety protocols above and beyond what is recommended in MLB’s 100-page return to play manual.
“Any time you do comprehensive tests, the numbers go up,” Shapiro said on a Friday conference call with Jays beat reporters. “We are testing every single person at intake. That’s going to be part of the transition process into creating the closed environment as much as possible around our players,” he said.
“I think it will be very important for it to be a collaborative effort that will take a partnership between us and the players. There are many things within our control that enable us to stay healthy. The players are going to be constantly educated on that and provided protection wherever possible.”
The team is not yet confirming any of the details of the return to Canada, but general manager Ross Atkins is expected to comment later in the week.
The Blue Jays organization, Shapiro in particular, had been lobbying all levels of Canadian government for six weeks now. The other 29 American-based MLB teams are planning to play their home games in their normal parks, but there currently is a non-essential travel ban between Canada and the U.S. to navigate.
“There is more comfort coming to Toronto and conducting training camp here under the conditions and circumstances here,” Shapiro had said on Friday.
Shapiro spoke then of “creating “a modified quarantine for our players and if we move to a regular-season scenario for visiting players. “That would be in addition to the MLB protocol,” Shapiro said.
He had said the Blue Jays weren’t seeking “extreme special treatment” from Canadian governments and health authorities and that the team is “understanding and deferential to public health and safety” concerns.
Shapiro had also thanked on Friday Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto mayor John Tory for their openness during discussions.
“Their guidance and support has been very strong throughout the entire time I’ve been talking,” Shapiro had said. “It’s been encouraging.”
Toronto revealed most of its 60-man player pool for the return to play later Sunday. Top prospect Nate Pearson was on the list, as expected, along with several of the club’s other most glittery youngsters and there is room for recent No. 5 overall draft pick Austin Martin should he be signed.