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Blue Jays may begin season in Florida upon MLB launch

TD Ballpark

Because of travel restrictions MLB officials and the Toronto Blue Jays may look to play home games at the team’s spring-training homeTD Ballpark in Dunedin, FL should the MLB regular season launch in July.

Right now Canada is operating under a Quarantine Act that mandates anyone traveling to Canada must undergo screening at the border and then undergo 14 days of isolation if they do not show symptoms, while those showing symptoms are ordered into a mandatory 14-day quarantine. (That rule will also potentially impact any resumption of the NHL and NBA seasons, by the way.) There are also provincial rules to follow.

So if play resumes in July, there’s a chance the Blue Jays will be playing out of TD Ballpark, the team’s spring-training home in Dunedin, should the travel restrictions be deemed too much of an obstacle. That doesn’t mean the team would spend an entire 2020 season there. But the Blue Jays are unique in that the travel restrictions are so severe. But Florida also has a self-quarantine requirements for out-of-state visitors, which does complicate things, not just for the Jays but for the Marlins and Rays as well. And different states have different rules about what’s allowed and what’s not during the coronavirus pandemic. From Sportsnet:

Mark Shapiro, the club’s president and CEO, spoke recently with both Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Toronto Mayor John Tory, who said Tuesday that the Blue Jays were “looking for some information at a very initial, preliminary level” about “possibly being in a position to play some games, whether it’s here or elsewhere.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated that NHL players arriving in Canada from another country “will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner,” before adding that, “we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.”…

[L]eague-wide scenarios that include staging a season in a neutral-site combine environment or in collective hubs remain under consideration. Some of the health guidance baseball has been getting is that the fewer cities they are in, the better the chances of successfully staging a season without interruption.

Issues like the ones the Blue Jays are facing must be under consideration as MLB preps a proposal for the players association regarding the start of the 2020 season–a proposal that could come this week or next. But every indication from MLB folks is that the sport is hellbent on launching a season in July, so expect lots of chat about format and player/worker safety in coming weeks.

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