MLB Notebook: Blue Jays in talks to return to Canada from July 30th


The Toronto Blue Jays have not played at the Rogers Center in Toronto since September 29, 2019. Frank Gunn / The Canadian Press via Associated Press

TORONTO – Talks between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Canadian government have sped up significantly and an exemption from border restrictions that would allow them to play in Canada from July 30th may be possible, said an official familiar with the talks on Friday opposite The Associated Press.

The Blue Jays asked the federal government to be allowed to play at home at the Rogers Center from July 30th and wanted a response by Friday.

A government official confirmed that talks had progressed on the final day. The officer spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to speak publicly. The Blue Jays expected an answer on Friday.

The Blue Jays played home games in Buffalo, New York during the shortened 2020 season and kicked off that season in Dunedin, Florida before moving to Buffalo. The Canadian government did not allow the team to play in Toronto because of the risk of spreading COVID-19 and cited frequent trips to the US during a baseball season.

The U.S.-Canada border remains closed to non-essential travel, despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week saying those restrictions could be lifted in mid-August.

Major League Baseball requires an exemption for unvaccinated players and team members to play games in Canada. Starting this month, fully vaccinated players with valid work permits will no longer need to complete a 14-day quarantine when entering Canada, but some teams have players who are not vaccinated. A quarantine exception and corresponding logs must be approved.

Talks between the Blue Jays and the federal government accelerated on the last day.

Describing Friday as a predetermined breaking point, the team found the club had a long home streak starting July 30, accounting for over 25% of the remaining games at a crucial point in time. The Blue Jays occupy third place in the AL East ranking.

They need lead time to get what they need from Buffalo and prepare for operations in Toronto, including ticket sales, even though they have already started preparations at the Rogers Center, according to two team officials who direct the AP under the Condition of anonymity spoke because they were not allowed to speak publicly.

Toronto last played on September 29, 2019 at the Rogers Center with 49,000 spectators, an 8-3 win over Tampa Bay.

NATIONAL: Washington infielder Starlin Castro was on leave from Major League Baseball on Friday due to its policies on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.

The vacation was imposed as part of the policy passed by the MLB and the players union in 2015 and may be the first step towards a prolonged suspension. Administrative vacation – during which a player is paid but cannot play for up to seven days – has historically been extended for players under the policy while MLB is investigating an allegation.

National manager Dave Martinez said he learned of the situation Thursday night.

“What I can tell you about myself and this organization, as you know, we do not tolerate any kind of domestic violence,” said Martinez. “To speak for myself, I find it terrible.”

Washington will face San Diego in the first series from the All-Star break this weekend.

Castro was put on the blacklist on June 16 because Martinez said at the time it was “family affairs”. The 31-year-old infielder was reinstated two days later and scored in a game against the New York Mets that evening.

“It’s a completely different situation,” said Martinez. “If I’d known a month ago, we would have had a different conversation. I can tell you that. “

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