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Unvaccinated MLB players won't be allowed into Canada to play Blue Jays

Written by on March 11, 2022

Major League Baseball players who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus won’t be allowed to travel into Canada to face the Blue Jays in Canada and won’t be paid for those games.

Canada’s government requires a person must have received a second vaccine dose — or one dose of Johnson & Johnson — at least 14 days prior to entry.

“The parties have agreed that any player who, as a result of such a governmental regulation is unable or ineligible to play in a championship season game [or games] due to his vaccination status will be ineligible for placement on the COVID-19 IL, but rather may be placed on the restricted list… without pay or the accrual of credited major league service, during such period of unavailability,” according to a letter from union deputy general counsel Matt Nussbaum to MLB senior vice president Patrick Houlihan, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The agreement was first reported by Boston television station WCVB.

Toronto opens at home against Texas on April 8.

“It’s a concern,” union head Tony Clark said Friday. “I think as everyone knows — appreciate and respect the decisions that are made, particularly in regard to player health and community health. But that is an issue, as one in the pandemic itself, that we’re navigating domestically, that we’re going to have to continue to try to work through here moving forward.”

The letter says the agreement covering unvaccinated players and travel to Canada expires at the end of the 2022 season.

Blue Jays stars report to spring training

The Toronto Blue Jays are finally back at spring training.

Stars Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette were among the players who reported to Toronto’s training camp this morning.

The players got to work at the Blue Jays facility in Dunedin, Fla., a day after Major League Baseball settled its labour strife.

A lockout had threatened to cancel the 2022 season until an agreement was reached between MLB and its players’ association late Thursday.

Toronto had its 2020 and 2021 seasons disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Blue Jays only playing half their home games — often with limited capacity — at Rogers Centre.

Capacity limits will be lifted in Ontario by the time Toronto hosts the Texas Rangers in their home opener on April 8, but COVID-19 regulations will still potentially impact the rosters of visiting clubs.

Canada still has a mandatory quarantine period for unvaccinated travellers entering the country, effectively keeping MLB players who have not received their shots off the field at Rogers Centre.

Sources confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday that players on teams visiting the Blue Jays who are not fully vaccinated would be placed on a restricted list for the length of their series in Toronto.

Putting players on the restricted list will open up roster spots for the visiting team. The unvaccinated players will not enter Canada.

The new collective bargaining agreement raises the competitive-balance tax threshold by $34 million US over five years, up from a $21 million hike over the 2017-21 deal and an $11 million rise from 2011-16.

Young star players like Guerrero and Bichette were the biggest beneficiaries of the deal.

Shohei Ohtani earned $545,000 in 2018, when he was voted American League Rookie of the Year. Had the new agreement been in place then, he would have earned an additional $750,000.

Cody Bellinger was at $605,000 in 2019, when he won National League MVP. Under the new deal, he would have gotten an extra $2.5 million.

The 22-year-old Guerrero finished second in AL MVP voting last season, earning 269 votes to Ohtani’s 420.

Guerrero finished last season with a .311 batting average, leading the majors with 48 home runs and 123 runs. His .401 on-base percentage, .601 slugging percentage, and 1.002 OPS were the best in the AL.