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Blue Jays hoping for Toronto decision soon

@KeeganMatheson
June 29, 2020

TORONTO -- As the Blue Jays await a decision from the Canadian government that will determine whether they’ll begin their season in Toronto or their spring home of Dunedin, Fla., the club has started moving players and staff to Florida to begin the intake screening and isolation process. This is

TORONTO -- As the Blue Jays await a decision from the Canadian government that will determine whether they’ll begin their season in Toronto or their spring home of Dunedin, Fla., the club has started moving players and staff to Florida to begin the intake screening and isolation process.

This is part of MLB protocol regardless of where the Blue Jays begin training on July 1, and when the government reaches a decision in what’s expected to be the very near future, the club can either travel to Toronto or remain in Florida.

Should the Blue Jays get the green light to return to Toronto, which they’re hoping to do, players would begin summer camp under a modified quarantine isolated from the general public, which the club can accomplish with use of the hotel attached to Rogers Centre and the amenities at the stadium. “The Blue Jays are hopeful to stage training camp and play regular season home games in Toronto and will continue to work through this possibility,” the club said in a release on Monday.

Health and safety remain the foremost concern for the Blue Jays, and the realities of Toronto versus Florida are very different. The province of Ontario has seen COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease, with most areas, including Toronto, moving to “Phase 2” of reopening, which allows many shops to open along with bars and restaurants that offer outdoor seating.

Speaking on Friday, club president and CEO Mark Shapiro described the past couple of weeks as “sleepless” as he and the Blue Jays have worked with all three phases of government towards their plan to play out the season in Toronto. While the Blue Jays were able to keep government and health officials engaged throughout the process with MLB’s proposed health protocols, a full proposal could only be presented when baseball’s return was made official as both sides needed the finalized version of those plans.

Shapiro is comfortable with Dunedin as a second option if it gets to that point but made it very clear that Toronto is the priority.

“Certainly there’s more comfort in coming to Toronto and conducting training here in light of the conditions and circumstances here,” Shapiro said, “but if we have to pivot to Florida then we’ll do so with diligence and attention to detail and do our best to keep players out of harm’s way.”

The Blue Jays briefly considered other options along the way, including their Triple-A complex in Buffalo, N.Y., but the club chose to focus their efforts on the top two options of Toronto and Dunedin given the level of planning required. Earlier in the process, the Rays also offered use of Tropicana Field to the Blue Jays and made it clear that they were there to help, if needed.

The Blue Jays are looking for a quick resolution at this stage, with hope that the Canadian government informs them of their final decision on Tuesday.

Keegan Matheson is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.