A final decision hasn't been made for where the Blue Jays will play regular season home games, though the team said its preference is to remain at Rogers Centre. "Part of the understanding was that it was their responsibility to work with us to ensure this works". Florida's Department of Health confirmed 10,109 additional cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking another single-day record and pushing the state's total confirmed cases to 169,106.
Shapiro said some of his players have already received two negatives and will start practising Friday in a "closed environment" in Dunedin. Shapiro said Toronto was engaging with the MLB Players' Association early in their planning process, and the union has been co-operative.
Toronto's player pool will be training at Rogers Centre after receiving permission from the Canadian government this week to use the stadium for camp purposes. "I think it's a matter of looking very carefully at the plan that would be proposed with respect to the regular season and taking it from there".
Astros general manager James Click said his team is also waiting on results from tests taken Friday so it was "prudent" to cancel Monday's workouts.
Upon arriving at a remote area of Pearson, the team will travel by sanitized bus to the Marriott hotel at the Rogers Centre where an isolated bloc of rooms has been set aside from the team. All players and staff were required to go through an intake screening that included two COVID-19 tests and antibody testing before crossing the border, where they will live in a modified quarantine at the Rogers Centre and the hotel adjoining the stadium.
"We've already talked a lot about how we can create the best development opportunities while having guys primed to help our major-league team", he said. Obviously it's more limiting because a visiting team that comes in will not be allowed to leave the confines.
Burelle noted they have only approved the Major League Baseball for the preseason training phase and regular-season games still need to be evaluated.
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Any cruises touching on a Canada port (such as Alaska & Canada/New England) have been suspended through October 2020. The country is by far the worst-affected worldwide, with 3,576,221 confirmed infections and 138,358 fatalities.
The league has said teams are permitted to have three exhibition games but given the logistical restrictions on the Jays it didn't make sense to purse that avenue.
"They felt better about being here", Shapiro said of the players.
The team will stagger workouts throughout the day at the Rogers Centre for safety reasons and to best utilize the limited facilities while attempting to apply a semblance of social distancing. Players will be spaced out between four locker-room areas, for example, with every other sink taped off in bathrooms.
A return to Dunedin remains the primary regular-season backup plan, though Shapiro said that other venues are being considered, according to Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star. "And then beyond that, we'll continue to do the things we have been doing and putting guys in positions to continue to think about baseball in a different way and think about their development in different way".
"And for me, just selfishly being able to see baseball again, see the joy in our players being able to play it again, even in a very different environment with some very different guidelines and parameters".
"So I feel like our players will be of less risk than much of the general population".