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Play ball! MLB agrees with players on framework to start 60-game season – CBC.ca

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Major League Baseball issued a 60-game schedule Tuesday night that will start July 23 or 24 in empty ballparks as the sport tries to push ahead amid the coronavirus following months of acrimony.

A dramatically altered season with games full of new rules was the final result of failed financial negotiations. But for fans eager to see any baseball this year, at least now they can look forward to opening day.

The announcement by MLB came while more players continue to test positive for the virus — at least seven on the Philadelphia Phillies alone. And a stark realization remained, that if health situations deteriorated, all games could still be wiped out.

One day after the players’ association rejected an economic agreement and left open the possibility of a grievance seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, the bickering sides agreed on an operations manual. Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred then unilaterally imposed the schedule, his right under a March agreement with the union.

In a twist, the sides expanded the designated hitter to games involving National League teams for the first time and instituted the radical innovation of starting extra innings with a runner on second base.

Playoff teams remain at 10 for now — there is still talk of a possible expansion. The rejected deal had called for 16 teams.

Players will start reporting for the resumption of training on July 1. It remains to be seen which players will report back to work — high-risk individuals are allowed to opt out and still receive salary and service time, but others who sit out get neither money nor the service credit needed for eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.

Each team will play 10 games against each of its four division rivals and four games vs. each of the five clubs in the corresponding division in the other league, according to details obtained by The Associated Press.

A team is scheduled to make only one trip to each city it visits in MLB’s shortest season since 1878. a schedule of such brevity that some fans may question the legitimacy of records.

No matter what, the season will be among the most unusual ever for a sport that takes pride that the race for titles is a marathon and not a sprint: Washington started 19-31 and 27-33 last year but finished 93-69 to earn a wild card and won a seven-game World Series for its first title.

The trade deadline will be Aug. 31 and the deadline to be in an organization for post-season eligibility is Sept. 15. Teams can resume making trades Friday, when rosters will no longer be frozen.

WATCH | MLB implements 60-game schedule:

Major League Baseball plans to unilaterally issue a 60-game schedule for its shortest season since 1878. 1:39

Active rosters will be 30 during the first two weeks of the season, 28 during the second two weeks and 26 after that. They will not expand to 28 on Sept. 1, as originally intended this year.

With no minor leagues, teams would be allowed to retain 60 players each, including a taxi squad. Up to three players from the taxi squad can travel with a team to a game, and one of the three must be a catcher.

MLB is keeping the planned innovation that pitchers must face three batters or finish a half inning —- players refused to agree a year ago but also waived their right to block.

The injured list minimum for pitchers at 10 days rather than revert to 15, as initially intended.

Distrust between players, league

MLB originally hoped to be the first U.S. major league to return, with an 82-game schedule starting around the Fourth of July, but public sniping broke out between management and players who distrust teams’ claims of economic losses following years of franchise appreciation. MLB claimed that without gate-related revenue it would lose $640,000 US for each additional regular-season game, a figure the union disputed.

MLB became exasperated with the union’s leadership team, headed by former all-star first baseman Tony Clark and Bruce Meyer, a litigator hired in August 2018. Manfred and Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem were infuriated when Clark said he considered the result of a one-on-one meeting with Manfred last week a proposal rather than what MLB termed a framework for a deal.

Rather than play 162 games over 186 days, the season will be 60 games over 66 or 67 days, depending on whether there is a nationally televised Thursday night opener. It is scheduled to end Sept. 27, which leaves little margin to make up September rainouts.

Players are being given staggered reporting times over several days for intake screening. The time will be used for coronavirus testing ahead of the resumption of workouts, which were stopped March 12 due to the pandemic.

Because of an uptick of infections in Florida and Arizona’s summer heat, 28 teams currently are leaning toward training in their regular-season ballparks. Detroit remained partial to Lakeland, Fla., and Toronto was hoping to gain government permission to work out at Rogers Centre.

Under terms of the deal the sides reached on March 26, which was to have been opening day, players would receive prorated portions of their salaries if the 60-game schedule is not cut short by the virus. Salaries originally totalled $4 billion, and the prorated portion of about 37 per cent reduces pay to $1.48 billion.

MLB initially had sought last month in its initial economic proposal to reduce pay to about $1 billion, and players vowed not to give up full prorated pay and proposed a 114-game schedule that amounted to $2.8 billion.

The relationship deteriorated back to the level of the labour wars that led to eight work stoppages from 1972-95, and the union has threatened a grievance claiming MLB didn’t fulfil the provision in the March deal requiring the longest season economically feasible, conditioned by several other provisions. MLB would claim the union bargained in bad faith, and the case would be argued before arbitrator Mark Irvings.

That would be a prelude to the expiration of the current labour contract on Dec. 1, 2021, which likely will be followed by a lockout.

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Montreal Canadiens reveal their expanded roster for Phase 3 – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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With Phase 3 set to begin on Monday, the Montreal Canadiens have announced their list of 30 skaters and four goaltenders who will be on the ice as part of the expanded roster.

The notable absence at camp will be Max Domi, who is waiting seven to 10 days after Phase 3 begins before making a decision on whether to join the team (he is listed on the roster). Karl Alzner has already opted out of participating.

Alexander Romanov will be joining the club as well after agreeing to a contract, It will be hs first time on the ice with the NHL team.

The list of players Claude Julien will have at his disposal this week while devising his lineup for the Stanley Cup Qualifier versus the Pittsburgh Penguins are:

Forwards (17)

Defencemen (12)

Goaltenders (4)

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Montoyo says competition on for rotation spot after Anderson’s injury – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO – A pathway to the starting rotation for Nate Pearson – or someone else if the Toronto Blue Jays are intent on manipulating their top prospect’s service time – is open after Chase Anderson suffered an oblique strain and is uncertain to be ready for opening day.

Manager Charlie Montoyo says the club still plans to deploy a five-man rotation, which is set to include Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Matt Shoemaker and Trent Thornton, who ripped through a roughly-60-pitch live batting practice session Sunday.

Given the way he pitched during the first spring training, the work he put on from then to now, and how he impressed again during an intrasquad outing Saturday, Pearson would seem like an automatic in light of Anderson’s injury.

But, since the Blue Jays can push his free agency back a year by assigning him to the club’s Alternate Training Site for about a week, he’s far from a lock to break with the team.

“They’re going to compete for that spot,” Montoyo, without specifying names, said of the club’s young pitchers. “I love the fact that all these guys know they are competing. We’re building them all up, so they’re all going to have a chance to compete. We’ll see where we go a week and a half from now. Other stuff can happen from here to when we start, as you know.”

Beyond Pearson, left-handers Ryan Borucki and Anthony Kay and righty Thomas Hatch are the likeliest other contenders, although the Blue Jays are trying to stretch out other pitchers, too.

“It’s a crazy year, as you know,” said Montoyo, “and we’ve got so many options, which is great for all these kids because they’ll be competing for a spot if Chase is not ready by the time this season starts.”

Anderson hurt himself while loosening up ahead of a recent bullpen and Montoyo said the veteran right-hander was already built up for 3-4 innings of work, building toward more ahead of opening day.

Montoyo described him as day-to-day.

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THORNTON SHARP: Trent Thornton knows better than to take a place in the Blue Jays rotation for granted but he had essentially sewn up a spot during the spring training and he’s right back where he left off at summer camp.

The sophomore righty looked sharp in throwing an estimated 50-60 pitches Sunday, routinely generating poor contacts and awkward swings. He came away pleased with how he felt physically and, after snapping off a pair of pretty curveballs to catch teammates looking, with how he manipulated his pitches.

“I thought I executed pretty much all my pitches,” said Thornton. “Elevated fastball was definitely a point of emphasis today, I thought I did a decent job with that. As far as my off-speed, breaking balls, changeup, cutter all felt really, really good, and felt like I got to accomplish a lot of what I wanted to.”

Thornton was able to throw throughout the shutdown, getting a key to the field from his high school coach so he could get his work in. His dad gave him a weight set for his garage while a trainer allowed him to work out in isolation at his gym.

“I feel great,” he said. “I don’t feel like I missed a beat at all. Within another week or two, I feel like I can just let the reins off.”

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.

UNCERTAIN SHUN: Shun Yamaguchi arrived at spring training determined to win a spot in the Blue Jays rotation but appeared to be destined for the bullpen.

Now?

“Same as March. I still haven’t gotten a formal notice on what type of role I’ll be playing in,” Yamaguchi, in comments interpreted Yuto Sakurai, said after logging 30-35 pitches during a couple of innings of live batting practice. “For me, I personally do want to be in a starting role so I’m trying my best to get the fifth spot.”

As things stand, it would appear he has some work to do for that to happen.

Yamaguchi allowed nine runs over nine innings with five walks and six strikeouts in four Grapefruit League games as he transitioned to the North American game after 14 seasons in Japan, and the thinking then was that his stuff would be best utilized in relief.

“At this point, to be honest with you, I’ve been able to adjust to the ball and I have a limited amount of time left until the regular season, so I can’t really be talking about the ball slipping out of my hand and whatnot,” said Yamaguchi. “Every day I’m trying to adjust and throw the ball better.”

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Blue Jays notebook: Shaw 'a little bit more informed' after management meets with Jays players – TSN

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TORONTO — Travis Shaw regrets speaking out in the way he did, but also admits he didn’t know what he and his Blue Jays teammates could be facing this summer when they arrived for summer camp a week ago.

On Friday, the first-year Blue Jays infielder sent out a series of tweets in response to my report on the severe penalties the team was warned about, focusing on the theme that there’s no way the Rogers Centre-Marriott City Centre Hotel quarantine bubble can be their reality all summer if the club is granted permission by the federal government and health authorities to play their 30 regular season games in Toronto.

“All summer isn’t going to happen. Not an option,” the 30-year-old infielder tweeted.

As we reported Friday, Shaw had no idea the quarantine bubble could extend into the regular season if the mandatory 14-day quarantine period is still in place and the Canada-U.S. border remains closed for non-essential travel.

Management decided to finally outline the potential scenarios to the team Saturday.

“We actually had a sitdown meeting,” Shaw said Sunday evening, addressing the topic for the first time on a Zoom call with reporters during the team’s workout. “They met with groups of people in the locker-room. I’m definitely a little bit more informed now than I was, say, a week ago. I kind of know what the deal is going forward. I know they’re still working with the government to get clearance for the regular season. Coming up here, I don’t think anybody thought that we could possibly be in here for three months, but everything’s kind of happening on the fly right now and we’re going to have to adjust accordingly.”

Now, Shaw and his teammates are well aware of just how unique, unenviable and challenging their situation could be, not only for summer camp over the next nine days until they leave for Boston to play a pair of recently-added exhibition games against the Red Sox, but far beyond that.

“It was kind of the first that I was hearing about it that we could possibly be in here all summer,” Shaw said of his initial Twitter response. “It’s not ideal to live in a hotel room for three months. I don’t think anybody would want to be stuck in a hotel room for three months. I like to go on walks, get away from work. Nice days like today in Toronto would be nice to walk by the water but we can’t do that this year and the Canadian government has made that pretty strict and we’re going to have to follow that and I, personally, will follow that.”

The Twitter fight Shaw found himself immersed in with fans and those protecting public health was something he regrets.

“It came out a little differently than I probably should’ve said it,” Shaw said. “I should’ve worded it a little bit differently. I was a little bit tone deaf, given the situation everybody is in right now.

“When we came up here we thought it was only going to be two weeks. We weren’t aware it could possibly be the entire summer.”

The team was told they could face a $750,000 fine and potentially jail time, the maximum penalty in the federal Quarantine Act, if seen outside the stadium walls.

It’s something they’ve all been taking seriously.

They just didn’t know it could be all summer.

“According to our rule sheet it just said $750,000 fine,” Shaw said. “And that is something I’m not going to break, I can promise you that.”

Shaw says the team hasn’t sat down to discuss how they’ll behave on the road when they start travelling to the States next week.

Whether the Jays stay in Toronto this summer, head back to virus-ravaged Dunedin, or find a way to make Sahlen Field in Buffalo work, the MLB clubs that take it upon themselves to self-isolate and stay healthy will have the best chance on the field in 2020.

“We have not discussed that yet,” Shaw said. “I think everybody has to be smart. I can’t sit here and say 100 per cent that everybody is going to stay in their hotel room on the road, either. I think people just have to be smart about it. I do not think people will go out and be selfish and jeopardize our team health and public health.

“Public health, public safety is priority No. 1. Team health, team safety is priority No. 2.”

During the discussion with management Saturday, it was conveyed to players that the club is still sorting through possibilities, but that Toronto is still without a doubt the preference.

“Unfortunately there’s not a lot of options to play somewhere else,” said Shaw, who added he won’t be opting out of this season like some players, even if he has to stay in a hotel room all summer. “The options are very limited. I don’t think anybody wants to play in Dunedin. That could be a competitive disadvantage just because of the heat, the weather and COVID outbreak that’s going on in Florida right now. Options are pretty limited right now.”

ROTATION SPOT AVAILABLE

The Jays’ rotation depth is already being tested a bit, as manager Charlie Montoyo announced Sunday that off-season trade acquisition Chase Anderson suffered a strained oblique and will miss some time.

Montoyo described it as a day-to-day situation, but oblique injuries and pitchers usually don’t mix well.

“He did it getting loose for a bullpen a couple days ago,” Montoyo said.

Slated for a mid-rotation slot, likely No. 4, that will bump Trent Thornton up a rung for the time being and give a host of other candidates a new lease on life.

After looking good in a simulated game on Saturday, lefty Ryan Borucki could be the front-runner, with Nate Pearson and his service time considerations looming after spending at least a week off the roster to begin the season in order to secure another year of team control.

Shut down in February with elbow tightness and toting around a long history of left arm issues, Borucki feels as healthy as he has in a while, adding he’s already built up to 50 pitches in bullpen sessions.

“I feel like I’m in the mix (for a rotation spot),” Borucki said. “I know what I’m capable of doing. I feel like everybody in this organization knows what I’m capable of doing. I showed that off in 2018 and I feel like (Saturday) was a good step to show everybody that maybe wrote me off that I am back and I can get hitters out in the big leagues.”

Borucki has tweaked his repertoire, too, ditching his slider in favour of a cutter, to go along with his fastball-changeup bread and butter.

“I just think the cutter, with the movement that I have on my fastball, really works well off my fastball,” he said. “I work inside to hitters really well and running it back in on them, then I can just throw the cutter right off that same lane and try to jam guys. I feel like it’s a better pitch than that bigger slider for me.”

Hyun-Jin Ryu, who will pitch Monday in an intra-squad game, Matt Shoemaker and Tanner Roark are locked into the first three rotation spots.

PEARSON GAINS CONFIDENCE

Not that he needed anymore confidence after dominating each and every one of his spring training outings, Nate Pearson can puff out his chest even more after carving through the top of the Blue Jays’ order Saturday.

Pearson faced Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, who drew a walk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Shaw, Randal Grichuk and Rowdy Tellez, not allowing a hit and striking out a pair (Shaw, Grichuk).

“That’s like our ‘A’ lineup and I’ll be facing a lot of ‘A’ lineups once I get my call to the big leagues, and it kind of just showed what my stuff measures up to and I thought I did pretty well,” Pearson said.

Getting ready in this setting has added new wrinkles for everyone, but Pearson was able to get himself mentally ready to stand on a big-league mound.

“I thought it was going to be a little bit different but I was able to pick up the exact adrenaline that I would have in a regular game,” Pearson said of the simulation game setting. “I haven’t been able to pitch in the Rogers Centre a lot so my first time being here as a guy that’s trying to break into the major leagues, it was awesome for me to be out there and I got a lot of adrenaline from it so I didn’t feel like I missed any parts of the environment.”

GURRIEL STILL MISSING

While the Jays continue to essentially “no comment” every question about a missing player or how many are still training in Dunedin, it’s been pretty clear the one key cog that’s missing is starting left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

No update has been given on the 26-year-old, nor has he been placed on the injured list like Brandon Drury, Jonathan Davis, Elvis Luciano and Hector Perez were a couple weeks ago.

Those five players have still not been spotted in Toronto.

Meanwhile, Austin Martin is now officially in the Jays’ 60-man player pool, but no ETA has been given for the fifth-overall pick.

Martin, like everyone else, would need to go through two COVID-19 tests in Dunedin before he can fly to Toronto to join workouts.

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