TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays appear one step closer to being able to train at Rogers Centre for the upcoming season.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday that “municipal, provincial and federal health folks” have given the team the OK, but they are still awaiting federal approval on the issue of quarantining.
The Blue Jays, the lone MLB team north of the Canada-U.S. border, had to ask for special permission from the Canadian government last week to use their Toronto stadium. The border remains closed to non-essential travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s unclear if the Blue Jays would also be playing their home games in Toronto, or if permission is being granted for training only.
Players would arrive in Toronto on Wednesday with camp officially beginning Friday. An abbreviated 60-game regular season would begin either July 23 or 24 and last 66 days.
Having a home base in Toronto would mean the Blue Jays can avoid using their spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. — at least for the time being.
Florida has been ravaged by COVID-19 lately, announcing 9,585 new cases Saturday.
Several Blue Jays players and staff recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The team shut down its Dunedin facility on June 19 after a play showed COVID symptoms.
MLB announced its plans for an abbreviated season last week, saying most teams would play in their home ballparks and travel for games against division rivals and teams in the corresponding divisions 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 2020 MLB season was supposed to begin March 26. Spring training was halted March 13 due to the pandemic.