Blue Jays not ready to convey COVID sympathy to opponents

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BOSTON — Would Bo Bichette like to play the competition at full throttle?

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Sure.

But does he feel bad that Canada’s COVID-19 rules will keep an undetermined number of opponents out of the country? No.

“For me, I would enjoy playing our competition at full strength,” Bichette said ahead of Tuesday’s first of three against the Red Sox here at Fenway Park. “But at the same time, I don’t really have any sympathy for them with what we’ve been through for the past two years.

“That’s probably an advantage (for the Jays). But definitely, absolutely no sympathy on that side.

The Jays certainly have a roster advantage over the Red Sox, who on Tuesday placed two more players on the COVID-19 injured list — wide receiver Christian Vazquez and infielder Jonathan Arauz, bringing the total to three.

Additionally, the Bosox said several players will not travel to Toronto next week for a four-game series at Rogers Center because they have not been vaccinated and therefore are not allowed to cross the border to play at the baseball.

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Red Sox manager Alex Cora has bigger concerns than international COVID-19 guidelines, but acknowledged on Tuesday that his team will adapt accordingly.

“We can talk about sports, but that’s what it is,” Cora said when asked about the potential competitive disadvantage. “It’s not (about) the Red Sox. It’s not MLB. It’s not the Jays. There’s a country up there (and) it’s like that. We just have to be ready for it.

“(We are) not the only team going through this. The A’s (had multiple players over the weekend) and they showed up and played well. We can do the same. It’s going to happen throughout the season for a lot of teams. We’re really good at staying in the moment.

Cora said his team has already planned for the unvaccinated absentees when the team faces the Jays in a series that kicks off at Rogers Center next Monday.

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“We know who’s wrong in Toronto and we’ve already planned accordingly,” Cora said. “We’re not looking to panic here.”

Cora’s counterpart with the Jays, Charlie Montoyo, has repeatedly explained how he feels about possible unfortunate talks from opponents bound for Toronto.

But on Tuesday, he added some spice to his thoughts.

“All I know is we follow the rules and that’s why we couldn’t play in Toronto for two years,” Montoyo said. “And from experience, nobody gives a (beep.) Nobody cared about us when we were in Dunedin.

“The rules are the rules and we follow them like everyone else.”

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YANKEES ELIMINATED

The Yankees had indicated they had unvaccinated players in spring training, but with a visit to Toronto now within the 14-day window to have players vaccinated and therefore allowed to enter Canada, that is not apparently no longer the case.

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When asked by Detroit reporters if he expected all of his players to be available for Toronto’s first series, Boone replied with a “yes.”

Boone was also asked if he has a fully vaccinated roster and he said: “I think we’re going to be well placed, that’s my understanding. Yeah. I understand that everything will be fine.

AIR WAVES

We’ll touch on the massive ratings the Jays are garnering at the start of the season, but first our best wishes to Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez, who left the team to begin treatment for cancer.

There is no personality associated with the Jays with such a long and high-profile history as Buck and like all who have had the pleasure of his company, we look forward to his return to the airwaves and to the stadium.

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And speaking of those airwaves, Sportsnet’s viewership from recently completed issues of the recently completed series against the A’s was extraordinarily large for April.

Sunday’s final was the biggest with 1.32 million viewers, while Saturday’s 1.23 million and Friday’s 1.119 million were also very big given the time of year and the opponent of lower profile.

And one more: Thursday’s final of a four-game Bronx drew 735,000 against a Leafs game, which drew 746,000.

Moving forward without Martinez, Jays fans will be well served with plenty more of one of the best in the business. Dan Shulman told us on Tuesday that he would take over most of the games Buck was scheduled to play on a per-game basis.

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AROUND THE BASES

Pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, receiver Danny Jansen and outfielder Teoscar Hernandez did not join the team for the six-game roadie through Boston and Houston. The trio on the injured list remained in Toronto for treatment… Nate Pearson threw 36 pitches in two innings in a mock game in Florida and will continue to be stretched for potential starting duties… Reliever Julien Merryweather experiences some knee discomfort but does not head to the IL. He’ll wear a knee pad and throw through if asked… Next up: On Wednesday, Jays right-hander Jose Berrios will face Canadian Nick Pivetta, who has struggled in his two outings. Kevin Gausman will face the Red Sox Tanner Houck on Thursday morning to conclude the three-game series.

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