Multiple Blue Jays players and staff have tested positive for COVID-19, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (Twitter thread). The positive evidence is linked to the circumstances that led to the closing of the Jays’ spring complex in Dunedin, Florida, last week. The facility shutdown was triggered by a 40-man player who showed symptoms after interacting with Phillies players who eventually tested positive. The exact number of positive tests is not publicly known, although Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic tweets that “several” members of the organization tested positive.
The circumstances of the Blue Jays are particularly unique. As the only Canadian MLB team, it’s still unclear where the Jays will host their games. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently extended the closure of the U.S.-Canada border for non-essential travel until July 21. That means that while players may travel to the United States, they would not be able to return to Canada without going through a 14-day quarantine process. If those restrictions are relaxed after July 21, the Jays could possibly host the games at the Rogers Center (depending on additional regulations, of course), but they would surely need more notice than just two or three days’ advance notice. . MLB currently hopes to start the season on July 23 or 24.
However, while most would assume that the league has been in contact with the city of Toronto or the province of Ontario about the possibility of hosting games there, that does not appear to be the case. Ontario Medical Director Dr. David Williams told TSN Scott Mitchell yesterday (Twitter link):
The Major League Baseball proposal, I saw and read it. It deals with many aspects there. It doesn’t mention anything about traveling to Canada right now, so if there was any interest in that, we’d have to get a proposal from them to see how they would undertake the uniqueness of bringing the team, and if they have. He thought about bringing other teams (to Toronto), how they would work with that until the federal government reduces or eliminates its quarantine law. But that is still in place at the moment. We have ways that we work with the NHL to consider that. I haven’t seen anything specific with Major League Baseball at the moment.
Perhaps that’s telling, then, that the league’s ultimate plan for the Jays is for the games to take place in the United States, at least in the early stages of the season. Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal previously suggested that sharing Tropicana Field with the Rays could be a possibility, and Davidi recently reported that there has been work at TD Ballpark, the Jays’ Dunedin Stadium, to bring lighting to the standards of the MLB at night. games. Of course, the recent positive tests at Dunedin are not a good first step in organizing regular season games there.
Meanwhile, agent Rafa Nieves, who represents the Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, tells Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes that the team told Hernández that playing at the Blue Jays’ Triple-A site in Buffalo, New York is also an option (Twitter link). Both Davidi and Rojas (via Nieves) indicate that the Blue Jays’ hope is understandable to play home games at the Rogers Center, although at this point it is clear that there is still no logistics plan in place.