TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays shifted plans Monday amid the ongoing wait for Canadian government approval of a Rogers Centre training camp, instructing players to gather in Dunedin, Fla., so the club can begin its MLB-mandated intake process.
Word of the change emerged hours after Ontario Premier Doug Ford said federal, provincial and municipal health officials had essentially approved the team’s modified quarantine proposal, but that “a letter of support from the federal government” was still needed.
Minus that piece and with the July 1 report date creeping closer and closer, the Blue Jays pushed back a chartered flight from Florida tentatively slated for Wednesday to Saturday, and set in motion plans for the intake process called for in the 2020 Operations Manual.
The adjustments positioned the Blue Jays to be ready for any eventuality without sacrificing valuable workout time hanging in limbo, a growing concern for players.
“Upon the conclusion of intake and isolation, the team will either board a charter flight to Toronto to begin training under a modified quarantine, isolated from the general public, or remain in Florida to conduct training,” the club said in a statement. “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.”
Reasons for the delay weren’t immediately clear, although the arrival of players who have been tested on a single charter flight is likely preferable to the government over a piecemeal arrival of players from multiple locales in the United States.
The chaos only added to the stress on players and staff, some of whom had flights to Toronto booked for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, while others worried about going to Florida, where cases of COVID-19 continue to rise sharply.
Ben Nicholson-Smith is Sportsnet’s baseball editor. Arden Zwelling is a senior writer. Together, they bring you the most in-depth Blue Jays podcast in the league, covering off all the latest news with opinion and analysis, as well as interviews with other insiders and team members.
Underlining the club’s preparations on parallel tracks, a shipping truck was loaded up during the day and sat idly at the club’s Dunedin facility awaiting the green light to head north, while at night the recently upgraded TD Ballpark lights were adjusted to optimally illuminate the field.
Under the Operations Manual, upon arrival at training camp players must first complete a pre-screening symptom and exposure questionnaire, followed by an intake screening 48-72 hours before the July 1 report date.
During that process, players undergo mandatory temperature checks with a contactless thermometer, diagnostic/PCR testing and serology/antibody testing.
Players are then to self-isolate for 24-48 hours while the results are returned, with those who test negative cleared to enter spring training and anyone who tests positive instructed to remain in isolation while being treated under the MLB protocol.
In theory, this would also allow the Blue Jays to weed out any COVID-19 carriers before entering Canada, proceeding to meet the requirements of the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travellers as part of a bubble extended to include the Rogers Centre field and the hotel attached to the dome.
Ford, speaking during his daily media briefing, said he had been in contact with Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro throughout the weekend and added that, “I know all the municipal, provincial and federal health folks kind of gave their approval.”
“I know there are a few tweaks here in the province that Dr. (David) Williams (the province’s chief health officer) wants to work out with them,” he continued. “But we have to wait for approval on the federal government on the quarantine side of things.”
With the coronavirus spread largely under control in Canada, public health officials are preaching an abundance of caution amid a staged reopening to avoid a resurgence akin to the one being experienced in parts of the United States.
Blue Jays agree to deal with first-round pick Austin Martin – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Blue Jays and 2020 first-round draft pick Austin Martin have agreed to a contract, Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae has learned. The deal is pending a physical.
Financial terms of the contract have not been disclosed, but the fifth-overall pick carries an assigned slot value of $6,180,700.
Martin was viewed as the best “pure hitter” in the draft and posted an eye-popping .377/.507/.660 batting line in 16 games with Vanderbilt before the 2020 NCAA season was shut down. He was expected to be drafted within the first three selections, but ended up falling to Toronto at No. 5.
The Blue Jays announced Martin as a shortstop on draft day, but it’s unclear where he’ll line up defensively. His versatility is another one of his strongest assets and he could end up at third base, second base or centre field if Toronto elects to move him off shortstop. It’s also possible he’ll be used as a super utiity-style player without a true, defined position.
Baseball America ranked the 21-year-old 16th on their latest Top 100 prospect list. First-overall pick Spencer Torkelson of the Detroit Tigers — coming in at No. 11 — was the only member of the 2020 class above Martin.
Fourth-round selection Nick Frasso is now the only Blue Jays draftee unsigned.
Washington Redskins undergoing 'thorough review' of team name – CBC.ca
The Washington Redskins are undergoing a “thorough review” of their name.
The National Football League team said Friday it has been talking to the league for weeks about the subject. In a statement, the team said recent events around the U.S. and feedback from the community prompted the formal review.
“This process allows the team to take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field,” owner Dan Snyder said.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “In the last few weeks, we have had ongoing discussions with Dan, and we are supportive of this important step.”
The recent national debate over racism renewed calls for the franchise to change the name, and sponsors this week started mounting their own pressure. Investors this week wrote to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors asking them to request a change.
FedEx, the title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Md., said Thursday, “We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.”
On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all of the team’s gear from its online store. Nike did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.
Coach Ron Rivera, who said in a recent radio interview that now is not the time to discuss the name, called it “an issue of personal importance.” Rivera said he’d work closely with Snyder during the process.
Washington mayor Muriel Bowser said recently the name was an “obstacle” to the team building a stadium in the District.
The current lease at FedEx Field expires in 2027, and the old RFK Stadium site in Washington is one of several options for the team’s new headquarters, along with locations in Maryland and Virginia.
Experts and advocates have called the name a “dictionary-defined racial slur.”
Until this point, Snyder has shown no willingness to consider a change.
In late June, the team removed racist founder George Preston Marshall from its Ring of Fame. A monument to him was also removed from the RFK Stadium site.
Hamilton fastest, Stroll 7th in Friday practice – TSN
SPIELBERG, Austria — Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time in the first two practice sessions for the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix on Friday.
Lance Stroll was the top Canadian, driving his Racing Point to seventh in Free Practice 2, less than a second behind Hamilton. Nicholas Latifi, racing his first Grand Prix in F1 this weekend, finished the second practice session 20th, 2.8 seconds behind the leader.
The British driver twice finished ahead of his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas on the 4.3-kilometre (2.7-mile) Red Bull Ring circuit in Spielberg nestled at the foot of the Styrian mountains in southern Austria.
Bottas was .356 seconds behind Hamilton in the damp and overcast morning run and improved to .197 back as the track dried and became warmer in the afternoon. Late in that session, however, he had to return to the pits because of a braking issue.
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who has won the past two races here, was third quickest in the first practice but slipped to eighth in the second session and encountered oversteering problems.
Ferrari struggled for speed in the morning with Charles Leclerc 10th quickest and Sebastian Vettel only 12th, but improved in the afternoon with Vettel pushing up to fourth behind Sergio Perez in third. Perez’s Racing Point team uses Mercedes engines.
Although Vettel showed good cornering speed, he was still a somewhat distant .657 seconds adrift of Hamilton’s time in the second session.
Ferrari is racing with the same car it used in preseason testing in February and has not made any upgrades, while Mercedes and other teams have.
After making a late strategy decision in terms of aerodynamic development this week, Ferrari is not upgrading its cars until the third race in Hungary, where practice starts on July 17.
Austria is hosting back-to-back races as part of an eight-race European swing, after the season was postponed for four months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
There are no fans allowed at races until further notice.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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