We are now just days away from the official start of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, and there’s one team that’s still searching to find a place to play their 30 home games.
It was officially announced Saturday that the Canadian government had denied approval for the Blue Jays to play games this season in Toronto, so the team is now scrambling with the first scheduled "home" date just 10 days away.
Blue Jays' president Mark Shapiro said in a statement Saturday, “From the onset of discussions with league and government officials, the safety of the broader community -- our fans -- and the team remained the priority of everyone involved, and with that, the club completely respects the federal government’s decision... Though our team will not be playing home games at Rogers Centre this summer, our players will take the field for the 2020 season with the same pride and passion representative of an entire nation. We cannot wait until the day comes that we can play in front of our fans again on Canadian soil.”
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The club has been carrying out their Summer Camp in Toronto under a special exemption, but the regular season became a separate negotiation -- one that was much more complicated as it included visiting teams needing to cross the border into Canada.
In a statement announcing the decision, Canadian minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship Marco E. L. Mendicino left open the possibility that the decision could be revisited for potential postseason games in Toronto "should the risk of virus transmission diminish."
So what happens now? According to Shapiro, “Dunedin is the only one that is 100 percent seamless right now and ready to go. That, from a player health standpoint, has some challenges... Buffalo is certainly one we have spent an increasing amount of time in the past few weeks on. That is not done and there are some infrastructure and player facility challenges we would have to address to get that up to Major League standards.”
According to Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Blue Jays are "looking at PNC Park" in Pittsburgh as "a potential site for some home games" in 2020.
Where the Jays ultimately wind up playing their home games will have major implications on the fantasy values of their players. Rogers Centre in Toronto is one of the better hitting parks in all of baseball and certainly provides a boost to the Jays’ offensive players (while dinging their pitchers). If they play at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, it would hurt the potential power numbers up and down the Blue Jays’ lineup. Conversely, if they wind up playing in a minor league stadium, it could wind up being an even better offensive environment than Rogers Centre.
Expect this situation to be resolved in the next few days.
The Angels made a major splash on the free agent market this winter, spending $245 million to lock up former Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon for the next seven seasons.
It sounds as though that his long-awaited debut with the Halos could be in jeopardy though. Rendon was scratched from the team’s intrasquad game on Friday due to oblique tightness. While he’s considered day-to-day, oblique injuries are notorious for lingering and could cause issues for Rendon over the first few weeks of the regular season.
To his credit, Angels’ skipper Joe Maddon said Sunday that Rendon is “confident” that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.
It doesn’t sound like a serious concern, but Rendon did slide down draft boards over the weekend. In three NFBC Main Event drafts on Sunday, Rendon went 46, 46 and 52 -- after having an average draft position of 36 in the eight Main Event drafts prior to Sunday.
Wilson Ramos away from Mets
Mets’ manager Luis Rojas announced Sunday that Wilson Ramos is away from the team to tend to a “personal matter”. He declined to provide any further details, noting that Ramos hasn’t been present at the team’s Summer Camp the past two days.
As an insurance policy, the Mets purchased the contract of Rene Rivera on Sunday to provide depth behind the plate for as long as Ramos may be away.
While it doesn’t sound like anything to worry about long-term, the uncertainty surrounding his absence could lead to his draft stock to fall. In one NFBC Main Event draft on Sunday, Ramos fell to pick 253 -- the latest that he has gone in 11 Main Event drafts where he sports an average draft position of 193.
American League Quick Hits: Astros manager Dusty Baker said Sunday that he is "not sure" whether Roberto Osuna will be ready for the beginning of the 2020 regular season. … Xander Bogaerts was removed from Sunday’s intrasquad game due to a tight hamstring. Red Sox’ manager Ron Roenicke said afterwards that he didn’t think the injury was a big deal. … Rays manager Kevin Cash said Sunday that he expects Yonny Chirinos to be ready by Opening Day. … Blake Snell (elbow) will pitch on Tuesday, likely setting him up to start the third game of the season for the Rays on Sunday versus the Blue Jays. … Yoshihisa Hirano (COVID-19) reported to the Mariners' summer camp Saturday… Charlie Morton was named as the Rays’ Opening Day starter against the Blue Jays, Hyun-Jin Ryu will oppose him. … Matthew Boyd will get that honor for the Tigers against the Reds. … Lucas Giolito has officially earned the Opening Day assignment for the White Sox. … The Twins released veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, giving him the opportunity to latch on elsewhere before Opening Day. … Lourdes Gurriel (side) could take live batting practice on Monday. … Brandon Drury (undisclosed) could join the Blue Jays for their exhibition games in Boston this week and hasn't been ruled out for the Opening Day roster. … Eduardo Rodriguez (COVID-19) threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Saturday. … Orioles manager Brandon Hyde is calling John Means (arm) "day-to-day." It remains unclear if he’ll be able to start on Opening Day. … Julio Teheran (COVID-19) said Sunday that he's about a week behind the other pitchers at Angels summer camp. … Masahiro Tanaka (concussion) threw a successful bullpen session on Sunday. … Red Sox’ right-hander Collin McHugh (elbow) decided to opt out of the 2020 season. … Brett Martin (COVID-19) has been cleared to join the Rangers at summer camp. … Jake Odorizzi was scratched from a scheduled intrasquad appearance Sunday due to mild upper back stiffness. ... Rangers manager Chris Woodward said Sunday that Willie Calhoun (hip) could be ready for Opening Day… Brad Peacock (shoulder) is not expected to be ready for Opening Day. ... Josh James will start the Astros' fourth regular season game against the Mariners. … DJ LeMahieu played three innings at second base in Sunday night's exhibition game against the Mets. He’s trending toward being ready to play in Thursday’s opener. … Thomas Eshelman worked five scoreless innings as the Orioles topped the Phillies in an exhibition game Sunday. … Stevie Wilkerson is scheduled to be examined by a hand specialist on Monday after jamming his left hand while diving for a ball during Sunday’s exhibition against the Phillies. … Dwight Smith (COVID-19) will begin the 2020 season on the injured list. He arrived at Summer Camp on Friday, but isn’t expected to be ready until the second week of the season. … O’s prospect Ryan Mountcastle crushed a solo homer in their exhibition victory over the Phillies on Sunday. … Giancarlo Stanton blasted a home run in Sunday’s exhibition against the Mets. … Jordan Montgomery punched out six over five shutout innings in that contest. … Jonathan Loaisiga hurled three shutout frames of his own in relief and could draw a start in place of Masahiro Tanaka the first time through the Yankees’ rotation. … Aaron Judge swatted a pair of home runs in Sunday’s 6-0 victory over the Mets. … Adam Engel clobbered his third home run of the exhibition season in Sundays’ victory over the Cubs. … Luis Robert went 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the contest -- but he was also nabbed attempting to steal second base.
National League Quick Hits: Jacob deGrom (back) made a successful simulated start on Sunday and is expected to be ready to make his scheduled start against the Braves on Opening Day. … Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Jed Lowrie's (leg) chances of being on the Mets' active roster at the beginning of the season "appear to be evaporating.". ... Ryan Braun was held out of the Brewers’ intrasquad game again on Sunday -- with manager Craig Counsell indicating that he’s dealing with some aches and pains. Counsell told reporters "I'm still confident he's going to be fine," Counsell said. "But it's Sunday. We have three days of games left after today. He has to get on the field soon, yes.". ... Wander Suero (undisclosed) reported to the Nationals' summer camp Sunday. … Victor Robles said via interpreter Octavio Martinez on Sunday that he will "absolutely" be ready for Opening Day on Thursday. Robles had been quarantined after being on the same flight from the Dominican Republic as a player who tested positive for COVID-19. … Robert Murray, formerly of The Athletic, reports that the Brewers have informed Logan Morrison that he has made the Opening Day roster. … Yoenis Cespedes started in left field for Sunday’s exhibition game against the Yankees. He looks as though he’s going to be fully healthy and ready to go for Opening Day and has seen his fantasy draft stock surge in recent weeks. … Keston Hiura (arm) expects to return to the field Monday. … Mets manager Luis Rojas said Sunday that Robert Gsellman is battling some triceps tightness and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready in time for Opening Day. … Tyler Chatwood is lined up to start the Cubs’ third game of the season -- behind Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish. … Pirates 3B prospect Ke'Bryan Hayes has tested positive for COVID-19, which explains why the talented 23-year-old has been missing from the club’s Summer Camp. … Anthony Rizzo (back) was able to do a full workout on Sunday and stated that he is aiming to be ready for Opening Day. … Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters via Zoom that Christian Walker (groin) did "some baseball activity" on Sunday. … Zack Wheeler allowed two earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in the Phillies' exhibition game loss to the Orioles. … Dodgers prospect Mitchell White allowed just one run over five innings in an exhibition start on Sunday against the Diamondbacks. … Max Muncy went 2-for-2 with two doubles, a walk and three runs scored against the D’Backs. … Mookie Betts went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored in that contest. … Cody Bellinger went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and five RBI in a 9-2 rout over the Diamondbacks. … Ketel Marte belted a solo home run in a losing effort against the Dodgers. … Kyle Hendricks surrendered three runs over 4 ⅔ innings (83 pitches) in Sunday’s loss to the White Sox.