Blue Jays' Charlie Montoyo on unvaccinated opponents: 'Rules are rules'

Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo says he's not going to make the call yet whether Nate Pearson will be a starter in the minors or in the Jays bullpen to start the season, but confirms the team's plan to stretch him out as a starter.

Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo is dismissive of the idea that Canada's COVID-19 regulations will give his club an advantage this season.

"I don't feel like that, rules are rules," said Montoyo on Monday, a day after New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone voiced his concern about losing some of his lineup when his club visits Toronto.

"We follow them like everybody else, that's how I see it. We followed them last year, didn't we?" said Montoyo, referring to the Blue Jays having to play most of their so-called home games at their training facility in Dunedin, Fla., or at their triple-A ballpark in Buffalo, N.Y., last season.

Editor's Note: The COVID-19 situation, in sports and around the world, is constantly evolving. Readers in Canada can consult the country's public health website for the latest.

Canada still has a mandatory quarantine period for unvaccinated travellers entering the country. That effectively means unvaccinated players on visiting teams are unable to play. Because of these federal regulations Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi — reportedly the only unvaccinated player in the NHL — has not played in Canada this season.

Sources confirmed to The Canadian Press on Friday that MLB players on teams visiting the Blue Jays who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 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, will not get paid during those series, and will not be credited with major league service, during such period of unavailability

"It will be interesting, to say the least, how that situations unfolds," Boone told reporters in Tampa on Sunday. "I think we still have a few guys at least that aren't vaccinated, so we'll be monitoring that situation closely and see how that plays out. But yeah, it's a concern."

The Yankees make their first trip to Toronto for a three-game series that begins May 2 against their American League East rivals.

Media reports out of Boston say that several key members of the Red Sox also aren't vaccinated. Boston's first trip to Toronto begins on April 25.

Any advantage can make a difference in the highly competitive AL East. The Red Sox, Yankees, and Blue Jays were all separated by a single game in the final regular-season standings last season, with Boston and New York both making the post-season as wild-card teams.

Montoyo said on Monday that he was proud of how his team handled splitting its 2021 season between three home fields, starting the season in Dunedin, then playing out of Buffalo, and finally returning to Rogers Centre in downtown Toronto on July 30.

"I don't think these guys get enough credit for what we did, not knowing where we were going to play," said Montoyo. "When we think about it, you've got to move families, you've got to get new apartments, all that stuff.

"I don't think they get enough credit. Our players, they never complained."

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