Blue Jays have no sympathy for COVID issues preventing opponents from entering Canada

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BOSTON — You’d like to think the Blue Jays would have enjoyed their first and only day off in the first 31 pages of the 2022 season schedule.

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Alas, not all rest days are created equal.

Normally, the Jays would have boarded their charter flight to Boston on Sunday night expecting a day off in the city of one of their American League East rivals.

But normal is banished when Monday is Boston Marathon day, and the Jays have delayed their trip until late Monday afternoon.

Of course, a day’s delay in travel is nothing for this Jays team, given what they’ve been through over the past two seasons, forced by Canadian COVID-19 restrictions to play. the majority of his matches on the road and away from home. .

Now that some of their top rivals are set to receive a dose of COVID-19 challenges, don’t expect sympathy from One Blue Jays Way. The Oakland Athletics in Toronto this weekend were the first to be affected with four players unable to cross the border because they were not vaccinated against the virus.

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And more higher profile blocks are coming.

So what about those who cry foul over a potentially unfair advantage?

“We remain focused on the Jays and managing our season and our challenges,” Jays president Mark Shapiro said via email when we asked him Monday about opposition baseball players. who have been refused entry to Canada.

Shapiro’s feelings for others braving about the potential injustice of circumstances are much stronger, however, as he made clear earlier this spring.

In his response to a question we posed to the Jays President and CEO about the potential of the 2022 Jays, Shapiro embarked on a passionate examination of his team’s logistical challenges over the previous two seasons.

“I’ll tell you this, I almost jump through my phone screen when I see a reporter write that it’s a competitive disadvantage for the Toronto Blue Jays because the teams can’t get the players through. across the border,” Shapiro said during a media briefing. at the Jays’ Player Development Complex in Dunedin, Florida. ” You are laughing at me.

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“What about the competitive disadvantage of not being able to sign players who are not vaccinated? How about playing half your season in Dunedin and Buffalo (like the team did in 2021)? Is it a competitive disadvantage? But no one was writing that from the United States. when this was happening.

The issue is set to be a potentially huge story for Major League Baseball, especially given the implications for two of the American League Eastern heavyweights.

Alex Cora, manager of a Red Sox team the Jays will meet for three here at Fenway Park starting Tuesday, acknowledged that “several players” will not be able to make the trip to Toronto later this month due to their vaccination status.

One of those players is starter Tanner Houck, who was expected to get the ball in the series. Rouck told the Boston Globe he wouldn’t be heading north.

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“I think it’s a personal choice for everyone whether they get it or not,” Houck told The Globe. “That’s all I really have to say about it.”

Time is running out for unvaccinated players to make their way to the Rogers Center, as long as current restrictions remain in place.

Currently, the Canadian government requires individuals to have received a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine – or a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson version – and to do so 14 days prior to entry.

It makes this week a big week for the Yankees, where it has been speculated that a number of players have not been vaccinated. The Bronx Bombers are scheduled to travel to Toronto for a three-game series starting May 2.

During spring training, Yankees star outfielder Aaron Judge did not directly answer a question about his vaccination status. At the time, there was talk that unvaccinated players would not be allowed in New York.

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“I think we’ll cross that bridge when the time comes,” Judge said March 15. “But at the moment so much could change. So I’m not really too worried about that at the moment.

What could change for any unvaccinated player is that they could get the required shots or they could sit back and hope Canadian regulations change, which seems unlikely.

And depending on the players affected, it could certainly diminish the offense of the Yankees, who must play nine games in Toronto for the rest of the season.

The Jays, who are now hardened by such inconveniences, despite not losing the eligibility of key players, find themselves in the throes of a difficult start to the season in their schedule. The 21-game series that begins Tuesday includes seven games against the Red Sox, six against defending AL champion West Houston Astros and three against the Yankees.

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Southpaw Yusei Kikuchi, making his second start with the Jays, makes his debut against Boston’s Nathan Eovaldi.

Despite an offense that has yet to launch consistently and some trouble from parts of the rotation not known as Alek Manoah and Kevin Gausman, the Jays will enter the series in Beantown with the only possession early in the season. first season in the AL East.

With large home crowds welcoming them to the Rogers Center on the first six dates in Toronto, the Jays are once again relishing a legitimate home-court advantage. Extend that to July 30, 2021, and they’re 29-13, a margin that could continue to improve depending on visitor status.

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