Blue Jays won’t play ‘home’ games in Pittsburgh

The Toronto Blue Jays will not be making Steel City their temporary home after all.

Major League Baseball (MLB) confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the Pennsylvania state government has denied the Jays’ request to play the majority of its home games at PNC Field in Pittsburgh, the home of the Pirates. The decision was reported earlier in the day by Sportsnet, citing sources who commented on conditions of anonymity.

With the regular season starting Thursday and Friday this week, the Blue Jays find themselves in a pickle, as their permanent home, the Rogers Centre, isn’t an option due to the current invocation of Canada’s federal Quarantine Act. The Canadian government had denied the team an exemption to cross the border for games without having to quarantine for 14 days upon return to Canada.

Another familiar option, the Jays’ spring training home in Dunedin, Florida, is also out of the question. The club had initially planned to play its games there, but with the state of Florida becoming a new hotbed of coronavirus cases, Dunedin was also ruled out.

Two other venues are still in play, according to Keegan Matheson, Blue Jays beat reporter for MLB.com. One is Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, in a sharing arrangement with the Orioles. This option allows minimal overlap and conflicts in scheduling. This plan is subject to approval by officials with the Maryland state government.

The other option is the home of the Jays’ Triple-A minor league affiliate, Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, which is the closest in proximity to Toronto. According to Matheson, the park would need to be modified to accommodate the need for social distancing.

Toronto does have a little time to play with, though, since its first “home” game is not scheduled until July 29. The Jays begin their season on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays Friday night.