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Blue Jays continue prepping for Toronto camp while awaiting government OK

SHI DAVIDI, SPORTSNET | posted Monday, Jun 29th, 2020

The Toronto Blue Jays continue to prepare for a training camp at Rogers Centre as they await official approval from the Canadian government, planning a charter flight from Dunedin this week while loading up a shipping truck at the club’s Florida facility.

Some players had flights north booked for Sunday and Monday, but were told to stay put until final word comes in, as expected, early in the week. Steps like booking a charter, likely for the Wednesday report day, indicate the Blue Jays are confident their modified cohort quarantine plan built around the dome and the attached hotel will convince public health officials to work around the border restrictions in place, as well as the mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving travellers.

As Sportsnet colleague Hazel Mae pointed out, such a set-up will allow the Blue Jays to satisfy those requirements while also beginning to work out.

The push to shift camp from Florida to Toronto came after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club’s Dunedin facility a week and a half ago, amid a spike in spread of the coronavirus across the state, as well as elsewhere in the U.S.

The Blue Jays had hoped to play their 30 regular-season home games in the city all along, but added camp to their request from the government as the situation deteriorated in Florida. They continue to prepare for a camp in Dunedin, as well, just in case.

Though club president and CEO Mark Shapiro was in contact with all three levels of government throughout the shutdown, he could not submit a formal proposal until Major League Baseball and the players union settled on details of the season last week.

An ensuing time crunch followed — Shapiro said Friday that players would be told where to go this weekend – creating uncertainty even as signs point toward spring in Toronto.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, submitted their player pool to MLB ahead of Sunday’s deadline, including a handful of top prospects from the lower levels of the minor-leagues.

Shortstop Jordan Groshans, 2019 first-round pick Alex Manoah, right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson — part of the return in the Marcus Stroman deal with the New York Mets last summer — and catchers Riley Adams and Alejandro Kirk were all included on the 58-man list.

Leaving two spots open gives the Blue Jays flexibility to add players down the road, including potentially 2020 first-round pick Austin Martin, should he sign as expected.

Notable absences from the list include non-roster invitee Marc Rzepczynsk and right-hander Yennsy Diaz, who was placed on the 60-day injured list in March with a right lat strain when infielder Joe Panik was added to the 40-man roster.

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