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PLAY BALL IN PITTSBURGH: Blue Jays land home away from home for 2020 – Toronto Sun

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The Blue Jays have firmed up plans for their summer retreat not far from the banks of the Allegheny River.

Late Tuesday, a source close to the negotiations said that the displaced Major League Baseball team would make Pittsburgh home for the majority of its 30-game home schedule in the abbreviated 2020 season.

As first reported by the Toronto Sun, the Jays will share lovely PNC Park with the National League’s Pittsburgh Pirates, creating what looks like a seamless solution for the homeless ball club.

The Jays were forced to go stadium hunting after the Canadian government denied the team’s request to host regular season games at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.

Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae was the first to confirm that the deal is done, reporting late Tuesday that the Jays were informed by MLB that PNC Park will be available to them, paving the way to work out the remaining logistics.

It is believed there are still some details to be finalized, but with the season due to begin on Thursday, there was an urgency to have the Jays situation resolved as soon as possible. Toronto opens the 60-game campaign in St. Pete, Fla. on Friday and will likely have an extended road trip because of the stadium situation and the need for temporary renovations to accommodate them at PNC Park.

While the schedule has yet to be finalized, there are some easy and logical tweaks that can be made at the start to address conflicting home dates between the Jays and Pirates. The Jays first “home” game action is scheduled to be a July 29-30 series against the World Series champion Washington Nationals. The Pirates are in Pittsburgh for those dates, but given that the Jays will already be in D.C. for games on July 27-28, both teams will likely remain in Washington with the Jays batting last in the second two games.

It remains to be seen how long it will take to make renovations to accommodate the Jays at PNC Park, leaving the possibility that Toronto’s next three home dates against the Phillies on July 31 through Aug. 2 could be played in Philadelphia.

If the schedule evolves that way, the Jays era in Pittsburgh would begin on Aug. 11 against the Marlins.

Landing PNC Park is as close to an ideal scenario as could be imagined for the Jays. Once the team was banished from Toronto because of the Canadian government’s understandable reluctance to allow frequent border crossing by multiple teams, Jays president Mark Shapiro was committed to finding a MLB stadium to share.

From players, to coaches, to the front office, the Jays felt they would be at a distinct competitive disadvantage if they were forced to play at Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, home of their Triple A affiliate Bisons. That belief was shared at least in part by MLB and the players association, not just from the Jays perspective but from that of their opponents.

Though other alternatives were considered, almost immediately after the federal government announced its decision this past Saturday, Pittsburgh became the frontrunner based on the teams’ respective schedules and their reluctance to settle on Buffalo. There are only seven conflicting home dates, which will be among the details to be worked out before the arrangement is officially announced.

The PNC Park option picked up steam on Monday when Pirates president Travis Williams said the team would welcome a shared arrangement with the Jays for the good of baseball. There will be logistics to overcome in the interim, but with no fans attending games this summer, there will be plenty of room at PNC Park, one of the most scenic stadiums in baseball, to accommodate both teams.

An MLB source said that details of the Jays tenure in Pittsburgh — as well as the schedule — are expected to be announced by Thursday, if not sooner.

rlongley@postmedia.com

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Bianca Andreescu, defending U.S. Open champion, pulls out of upcoming Grand Slam – Global News

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Bianca Andreescu will not defend her title at the U.S. Open after opting out of the Grand Slam later this summer in New York.

The Canadian made the announcement on Thursday.

Andreescu hasn’t played a match since suffering a knee injury last October.

Read more:
Bianca Andreescu voices support for U.S. Open in summer despite coronavirus






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Canada’s Bianca Andreescu defeats Serena Williams to win US Open


Canada’s Bianca Andreescu defeats Serena Williams to win US Open

Andreescu says she has to focus on her match fitness to ensure she can play at her highest level upon her return. She says the COVID-19 pandemic has compromised her ability to prepare.

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While she tweeted in support of the United States Tennis Association’s decision to go ahead with the U.S. Open in June, Andreescu pulled out two months later.

The 20-year-old Andreescu, from Mississauga, Ont., hinted she was nearing a return before COVID-19 shuttered the sports world in March. But Andreescu, ranked sixth in the world, didn’t enter any of the four events before the U.S. Open in the sport’s restart in August.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien hospitalized with chest pains – CBC.ca

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Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien is in hospital after suffering chest pains following Wednesday night’s playoff series opener against the Philadelphia Flyers in Toronto.

General manager Marc Bergevin says associate coach Kirk Muller will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the best-of-seven series while Julien is sidelined.

Julien, 60, went to hospital after Philadelphia’s 2-1 win in Game 1 on Wednesday.

The Canadiens, the lowest-seeded team in the NHL’s post-season, upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games in the qualifying round.

A native of Blind River, Ont., Julien has been an NHL head coach since 2002 when he began his first run as coach of the Canadiens.

Julien guided the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011. He returned to coach Montreal midway through the 2016-17 season.

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Report: Westbrook out to begin playoffs – TSN

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When the Houston Rockets begin their playoff quest for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, they won’t have Russell Westbrook.

The former MVP is expected to miss at least the start of the playoffs because of a strained right quad, Jonathan Feign of the Houston Chronice is reporting.

Feign adds that there is no firm timetable but Houston believes he will be out for at least the first few playoff games and possibly longer.

He will not play Friday in the Rockets’ regular season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers.

In 57 games so far this season, his first in Houston, Westbrook is averaging 27.2 points per game on 47.2 per cent shooting to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists.

The Rockets head into play Thursday at 44-27, good for fifth place in the Western Conference.

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