Blue Jays await a decision “very soon” on where they will play

TORONTO – Less than a week before Major League Baseball teams resume training on July 1, the Toronto Blue Jays have yet to tell their players where to appear.

“At some point over the weekend, we’ll get them on the road and tell them where to report,” Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro said in a conference call on Friday. “Obviously we are working in an accelerated time frame and we have to make a decision very soon.”

After spending weeks working in a “dual scenario” for their spring training site in Dunedin, Florida, and the Rogers Center in Toronto, a recent surge in Florida coronavirus cases prompted the Blue Jays to petition the Canadian government to allow players to cross the United States closed. -Canada border to prepare safely for the next season.

“As the condition in Florida worsened and the peak occurred … we increased the chance of doing our training in Toronto,” Shapiro said. “It just seemed like a safer alternative.”

Shapiro said the Blue Jays did not consider playing in nearby Buffalo, New York, home of its affiliate Triple-A. He also said that a prospective plan to share Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida with the Rays was scrapped about three weeks ago. That plan would have required the Blue Jays to finance and build an additional locker room at the Tampa Bay stadium.

Buffalo could still host a squad of Blue Jays player taxi drivers, Shapiro said.

Already elevated, health and safety concerns will further escalate if the request to play in Toronto is denied and the Blue Jays end up in Dunedin.

“We will do it with diligence and attention to detail and we will do our best to keep players out of harm’s way,” Shapiro said.

Wherever the Blue Jays end this season, there will probably be no one in the stands.

“We don’t expect to have fans, regardless of location,” Shapiro said.

Shapiro did not reveal details about any cases of the coronavirus at the team’s Dunedin facility. All major league training sites closed last week after an outbreak at the Philadelphia Phillies’ site in Clearwater, Florida, not far from Dunedin. Last Friday, the Blue Jays said a pitcher on their 40-player roster was showing symptoms of the virus.

Shapiro said the Blue Jays will continue to pay their minor league players, even though they are currently unable to play.

“We are committed to paying minor league players at the same rate until September 7,” he said.