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Homeless Blue Jays scramble to arrange for shortened season

With 60 video games remaining within the 2019 schedule, the Blue Jays had been a mere 27.5 video games out of first place within the American League East.

However in a pending Main League Baseball season like no different earlier than it, that 60-game mark would be the place to begin for the Jays and 29 different groups who will scramble to arrange for a shortened schedule that’s quickly anticipated to be finalized.

In a deal lastly reached Tuesday night time after months of agonizing, poor-faith negotiations, baseball will cease battling itself and as a substitute tackle a bunch of different challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The abbreviated schedule, authorised by the Main League Baseball Gamers’ Affiliation, is slated to start on July 23 or 24 with gamers required to report back to their group previous to July 1 for a three-week coaching camp.

For now, anyway, that has the Jays in a novel and difficult place in comparison with all of their rivals. Due to border restrictions associated to the virus, gamers and personnel can’t report back to Canada with out quarantining for 14 days.

Although the group has but to formally announce its plans, it’s anticipated the coaching camp will happen in Dunedin, Fla. on the group’s minor league complicated.

Close by TD Ballpark is taken into account one of many prime candidates for the Jays dwelling video games as soon as the season begins, although the group is actively lobbying the Canadian authorities to return to the Rogers Centre for no less than a portion of the schedule.

What shall be a dash of a season in comparison with the 162-game marathon that was scrubbed when the virus shut down the sports activities world in March, actually creates some distinctive circumstances.

It additionally has the potential for some thrilling outcomes, significantly for a younger Jays group that added ace starter Hyun-Jin Ryu within the off season and will have flame-throwing prime prospect Nate Pearson as a part of its rebuilt rotation.

Contemplate that the Jays went 29-31 over their last 60 video games, using the emergence of younger stars equivalent to Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio, and the probabilities are intriguing.

Some notable logistical components of a schedule that ended an acrimonious battle between MLB and its union:

— For the common season, the Nationwide League and American League shall be deserted with three 10-team divisions created alongside geographic strains to ease journey. The Jays will play 10 video games in opposition to every of their 4 AL East opponents and the remaining in opposition to the NL East.

— The season will start both July 23 or 24 and finish on Sept. 27. The beforehand negotiated expanded playoff format was scrubbed after talks broke down.

— Rule modifications embody the addition of a common DH for all groups, a necessity given the combo between AL and NL groups inside their new divisions. Partially because of well being issues designed to hurry up play, further innings video games will start with a runner on second base.

— With baseball’s minor leagues basically shut down, groups shall be allowed to convey 60 gamers to camp, an inventory that must be submitted to the league by Sunday. Groups will be capable to draw from that pool all season. Given the shortened coaching interval, groups shall be allowed to hold 30 gamers for the primary two weeks when it will likely be diminished to 28 after which right down to 26 later within the

— Due to well being and security protocols within the new settlement designed to cut back time on the park, there shall be no doubleheaders in 2020. As effectively, gamers could solely arrive on the stadium 5 hours previous to first pitch and should depart 90 minutes after its conclusion.

— There are a selection of social distancing initiatives in place together with managers leaving the dugout to argue with an umpire required to keep up a six-foot distance or danger ejection, suspension or fines. Gamers are being advised to not fraternize with opposing groups earlier than the sport, throughout the sport or between innings.

— The Injured Listing shall be set at 10 video games for conventional game-related illnesses however for COVID-19 points there isn’t any most or minimal interval.

— As chilly as it will be to deal a participant in the course of a pandemic-shortened season, the commerce deadline has been set for Aug. 31.

In the meantime, the uncertainty surrounding the Jays intensified final week when a pitcher on the group’s 40-man roster confirmed COVID-19 signs. The ability — and all these in Florida and Arizona — was shut down for a deep clear.

TD Ballpark, the place the Jays play their Grapefruit League schedule, stays a major choice for the 30-game dwelling schedule ought to the Rogers Centre stay unavailable. The group just lately labored on improved lighting for the just lately renovated stadium, an vital improve for TV broadcasts.

A part of a Jays pitch to get video games in Toronto shall be the opportunity of making a bubble on the Rogers Centre the place visiting groups could possibly be housed within the resort that’s a part of the getting older stadium. Behind the scenes, Jays administration will try to achieve the same exemption that the NHL was capable of procure for Canadian cities bidding to be a hub for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

rlongley@postmedia.com

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By Punit Nirankari

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