MLB's Opening Day is on Thursday and the Toronto Blue Jays still do not have a place to play their home games after the Pennsylvania Department of Heath denied the Canadian team from playing at the Pittsburgh Pirates' PNC Park amid coronavirus concerns.
On Saturday, the Canadian government denied the Blue Jays permission to play at Rogers Centre due to travel fears related to COVID-19, leaving Canada's only MLB franchise scrambling for a place to call home.
Toronto's first home game is scheduled for July 30 against World Series champions the Washington Nationals after opening the season with three games at the Tampa Bay Rays followed by two at Washington, starting Friday.
The Blue Jays reportedly had an agreement in place with the Pirates to share PNC Park and were just waiting on Pennsylvania to approve the move, but the state rejected the request on Wednesday due to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the region.
Days with baseball > Days without baseball pic.twitter.com/PqlgZNxb5o— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 22, 2020
"In recent weeks, we have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in southwestern Pennsylvania," Dr. Rachel Levine, the state's secretary of health, said in a statement.
"To add travellers to this region for any reason, including for professional sports events, risks residents, visitors and members of both teams.
"We know that this virus does not discriminate, and can even make professional athletes very sick. We are committed to protecting the health and well-being of all Pennsylvanians."
Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk said before Tuesday's exhibition game that a possibility for their home park is at the Orioles' home in Baltimore or at Toronto's Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo – a two-hour drive away from Toronto on the opposite side of Lake Ontario in New York.
The preference for Grichuk would be to play at a major league ballpark with better amenities as opposed to the stadium in Buffalo, which is not currently up to MLB standards.
On Monday, Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said the club had more than five contingency plans of where to play, but declined revealing the teams they have contacted.