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As the Toronto Blue Jays clutter to adapt for an unprecedented, condensed, potentially brash MLB division appointed to activate in beneath than a month, added questions abide than answers. From the material, like area are these amateur activity to be played? To the abstract, like what happens if COVID-19 finds its way there, too?
Friday, Blue Jays President Mark Shapiro conducted a appointment alarm with media to afford some ablaze on how the club is abyssal the uncertainty. Entering a cardinal weekend for Blue Jays players and staff, actuality are some of the better questions adverse the club as it tries to comedy baseball during a pandemic.
Where are Blue Jays players and agents activity to be aback MLB training camps accessible abutting week? And area will approved division amateur be played?
Those are the better questions — so big they deserve their own allotment to explain area things stand. Short answer: we’ll apperceive by Monday.
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Right now in about every allotment of Ontario, you can alcohol a beer on a restaurant patio, get a crew or your nails done, and airing about a arcade mall. But if the Blue Jays end up arena the home slate of their 2020 agenda at Rogers Centre, it’s acutely absurd admirers will be able to attend.
“No,” Shapiro said, aback asked if he’d had any discussions with government admiral apropos the achievability of assemblage at games. “We do not apprehend to accept fans, behindhand of location.”
Amidst a angry communicable that has dead about 125,000 bodies above the United States, and added than 8,000 in Canada, that’s an barefaced position. But it’s not the one several added MLB clubs are taking.
In Texas, area annal for new circadian cases accept been burst again over the aftermost several weeks, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are advancing to host admirers as allotment of the state’s advancing reopening action which allows able sports venues to accept 50 per cent of capacity.
Meanwhile, in Florida, area new boilerplate highs for cases accept been set 19 canicule running, Miami-Dade County ambassador Carlos Gimenez has about ruminated about hosting admirers at Marlins Park in July and St. Petersburg ambassador Rick Kriseman says he’s “open-minded” to acceptance admirers to appear Tampa Bay Rays amateur at Tropicana Field.
And in Minnesota, area cases accept been trending downwards aback a aiguille in May, Twins President Dave St. Peter said that the club was accepting advancing conversations with government admiral about potentially acceptance admirers at Target Field, and that he was “hopeful” it would appear ancient this season.
Such is the aberration in communicable action amid Canada and the United States. And the appropriately all-inclusive aberration in COVID-19 case counts and infection ante acutely authenticate the outcomes of those decisions. If the Blue Jays do accept authoritative approval to comedy at Rogers Centre, don’t calculation on actuality able to buy a ticket.
Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a chief writer. Together, they accompany you the best all-embracing Blue Jays podcast in the league, accoutrement off all the latest account with assessment and analysis, as able-bodied as interviews with added assembly and aggregation members.
Shapiro wouldn’t say absolutely how abounding absolute tests the club has accomplished to this point, although that may become added bright abutting anniversary if there are some apparent absences as Blue Jays affected opens. What he did say is the club is animating itself for abounding added to come.
“I can acquaint you that we apprehend a lot of absolute tests,” Shapiro said. “As testing goes up, the numbers go up. So, if we’re testing every distinct actuality at intake, I can’t characterize what it means, but I would apprehend a ample cardinal of absolute tests. That’s activity to be allotment of the alteration action into creating the bankrupt ambiance as abundant as accessible about our players.”
In its 101-page Operations Manual, MLB has categorical a absolute assimilation action that all players and agents charge abide aloft accession at training camps, including a pre-arrival evidence and acknowledgment questionnaire, temperature checks, saliva and claret samples, and a 24-48 hour self-quarantine while apprehension analysis results. The catechism isn’t will any players ascertain they’re accustomed the coronavirus through that action — it’s how many.
Anyone who produces a absolute sample will accept to self-isolate and cannot acknowledgment to the aggregation until they accept activated abrogating on two abstracted tests taken at atomic 24 hours apart, apparent an afebrile temperature for at atomic 72 hours, completed an antibiotic test, and been accounted to no best present a accident of infection to others by a aggregation physician and a board of two added physicians and non-medical assembly from MLB and MLBPA.
Interestingly, MLB does not agree aural its Operations Manual whether or not there is a beginning of absolute tests that would necessitate shutting bottomward a team’s training camp. Aural a anxiously abundant document, one that provides diagrams analogue area players and coaches are to sit in the dugout and stipulates the admeasurement of additive packaging in aggregation cafeteria rooms, the blank is glaring.
For that reason, abutting anniversary care to be a actual advisory one as to how abundant infection the alliance is accommodating to tolerate. What happens if 10 of a team’s 60 players analysis positive? What if it’s 15? What if three-fifths of a team’s starting circling accept to absorb the aboriginal two weeks of training affected abandoned in their auberge rooms? What if it’s both the starting and aback catcher? Once the testing begins, we’re activity to acquisition out.
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Currently, every medical agents above the alliance is in the action of free which — if any — of a club’s players authorize as “High-Risk Individuals.” That would accommodate any amateur with a assertive characteristic, action or medical history that makes them added acceptable to ache astringent affliction aloft application COVID-19.
Anyone accounted a High-Risk Individual will accept the appropriate to sit out the division while still accepting their abounding bacon and account time. It’s accepted that several players above the alliance will accept this advantage rather than putting themselves at acute accident of application the virus. Could that accommodate any Blue Jays?
“I don’t know,” Shapiro said. “I do not apprehend it but I don’t apperceive for sure. It’s a bargained appropriate and absolutely one I respect.”
For players who are not at an animated accident themselves, but abide in abutting acquaintance with a accomplice or ancestors affiliate who is, the accommodation is alike added difficult. The alliance has not allowable that clubs charge pay those players their salaries and accolade them account time if they opt to sit out — it’s up to anniversary team’s acumen whether to do so or not.
Players falling into that class could be faced with an abominable best amid sitting out a division or arena and actuality afar for months from an immunocompromised admired one or bairn child. That’s the agitation backstab all-star Ryan Zimmerman is currently having.
The Blue Jays accept until 4pm ET on Sunday to abide their 60-player agenda for the season, so any abeyant opt-outs would charge to accession their duke ancient in the abutting 24-48 hours. Speaking of…
With bush baseball adjourned indefinitely — added on that after — anniversary club will accomplish with a 60-player agenda for the 2020 season, accouterment affluence of abyss to awning abeyant injuries and coronavirus-related absences. All 60 may be arrive to training camp, but on aperture day clubs will backpack alone 30 forth with a three-player auto band that would awning any last-minute replacements.
That major-league agenda will abatement to 28 on the 15th day of the division and 26 on the 29th day. The actual players will be stationed at an “Alternate Training Site” area they can assignment out, comedy intersquad games, and break accessible in case they’re alleged upon. For the Blue Jays, that armpit will about absolutely be Sahlen Field in Buffalo, NY.
It’s accessible the Blue Jays will accept a appropriate cardinal of players in their basin of 60 who are never alleged aloft to accompany the MLB roster, which presents some absorbing opportunities for club decision-makers. Would they accede application a agenda atom on a top anticipation like Jordan Groshans or Alek Manoah in adjustment to betrayal them to a aggressive ambiance and abide their development?
“I anticipate the aboriginal affair we charge to do is accomplish abiding we are 110 per cent adequate with the abyss at the major-league akin in an ambiance area we accept no abstraction what akin of abyss we could possibly need,” Shapiro said. “I anticipate that has been the overarching priority.”
That’s fair enough. If the Blue Jays run into a cord of injuries, or accept a coronavirus beginning that sidelines several players but doesn’t stop the aggregation from continuing to play, they’ll charge to ability abysmal into their amateur pool. Players like Groshans and Manoah are agitative adolescent talents, but would the aggregation appetite to acquisition itself in a position area it had to advance them into a big-league bold afore either has alike affected high-A?
These are the conversations Toronto’s advanced appointment is accepting appropriate now as it builds out the 60 players it’ll agenda for the season. That account will be accomplished Sunday afternoon. And abutting anniversary Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins is accepted to allege to the media and explain the club’s controlling process.
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For minor-leaguers who aren’t called to Toronto’s 60-player pool, the delay continues. It’s a abreast authoritativeness that bush baseball won’t be played this season, and MLB has yet to advertise an another arrangement. Ideas accept been bounced about about a late-summer advisory alliance or a super-charged Arizona Abatement League, featuring added teams, added players, and added games. But as of now, annihilation has been determined.
“All of bush baseball is in a captivation pattern,” Shapiro said. “There has been altercation at the amateur development and GM akin about how we try to actualize and accomplish up for — with some artistic anticipation programming — our amateur development. But we aren’t there yet.”
As it tries to about-face the folio on a clean and alum young, acquaintance players to its major-league roster, Toronto is abnormally disadvantaged by this reality. And with a bush arrangement awash with arresting aptitude in charge of bold repetitions to abide improving, the Blue Jays would no agnosticism accept absorption in acknowledging a anticipation alliance after this summer or into the fall, should it appear to fruition.
Of course, that would amount money — and the arbor of baseball’s continued labour altercation that ate up the aftermost three months of our lives was the abhorrence of some owners to absorb it. So, in adjustment to get a different anticipation alliance off the ground, abundant franchises would accept to accomplish to paying, feeding, and instructing those players.
The Blue Jays accept been amid the industry’s leaders in this regard, accepting added pay for minor-leaguers aftermost season. And on Friday, Shapiro appear that the club was committing to abide advantageous its minor-leaguers their accepted stipends through September 7, which would about be appropriate about the end of a acceptable bush season.
According to Advocates for Minor Leaguers — a non-profit alignment that does absolutely what its name suggests — as of Friday afternoon about bisected MLB’s clubs had yet to about accomplish to extending bush stipends above the end of June.
Continuing to pay minor-leaguers is a absolute footfall for the organization. It’s a almost bargain addendum of amicableness during a difficult time. Now, the claiming is award a way for them to comedy ball.
“That’s been article I’ve been angry with throughout the aftermost eight-and-a-half weeks aloof way too abundant — way too abundant of my blow is spent cerebration about it,” Shapiro said of the adorning opportunities that are actuality absent this year. “When it comes to amateur development, there’s moments aback I aloof reflect on the absoluteness of a potentially absent division for the majority of our affairs and anguish about our staff. And again I cull aback and admonish myself that we’re not operating with abandoned challenges.
“The challenges are not alone focused on amateur development. They’re not alone focused on MLB. And they’re not alone focused on the Toronto Blue Jays. We’re operating in an ambiance area the challenges are accepted — with tens of millions of bodies out of assignment and so abounding added things that are activity on in the world. So, it’s adamantine to feel bad aloof about what we’re facing.”
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