TORONTO – A handful of Toronto Blue Jays players and staff who had direct contact with the team’s latest player to test positive for COVID-19 remained in Dunedin, Fla., while the rest of the team chartered north over the weekend, according to an industry source.
The group held back won’t be able to join training camp at Rogers Centre until each member produces two negative tests under the protocol agreed to with the Canadian government. The team had planned to run a second charter up to Toronto in the coming days.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported news of the latest positive test.
The Blue Jays had an outbreak of cases at their facility in Dunedin, Fla., late last month, helping spur their push to host training camp at Rogers Centre. The government granted the team an exemption letter Thursday, but has yet to approve regular-season games in Toronto.
The Blue Jays completed their intake testing in Dunedin, Fla., without experiencing the delays that have hampered several other clubs, but results for Toronto-based staff from samples taken Friday remain unreturned, preventing them from accessing the building Monday.
Both the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros cancelled workouts Monday because of delays in receiving test results. A prime tenet of Major League Baseball’s safety protocols is frequent testing to ensure any positive cases can be quickly identified and isolated. In a statement, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said, “We cannot have our players and staff work at risk.”
“We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families,” said Rizzo, whose Nationals are awaiting the results of Friday tests. “Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with summer camp. Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab. Otherwise, summer camp and the 2020 season are at risk.”
MLB’s testing is being done by the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Salt Lake City, which as part of an agreement converted a portion of its anti-doping lab for the COVID-19 testing.
The sport’s 2020 operations manual says that the lab “has committed to fulfilling the Testing Components” of the protocol but adds that “other testing laboratories and facilities identified and approved by the joint committee may be used to test a limited number of samples when additional capacity or expedited processing is necessary.”