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New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is concerned about the impact on the roster resulting from rules that Major League Baseball players who are not vaccinated against the coronavirus will not be allowed to travel to Canada to face the Blue Jays in Toronto.
The Government of Canada requires a person to have received a second dose of vaccine – or a dose from Johnson & Johnson – at least 14 days prior to entry.
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“It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how this situation unfolds,” Boone said Sunday. “I think we still have at least a few guys who are unvaccinated, so we’ll be watching this closely and seeing how it plays out. But yeah, that’s a concern.”
The Yankees make their first trip to Toronto for a three-game series that begins May 2 against their AL East rivals.
“The parties have agreed that any player who, due to such government regulations, is unable or ineligible to play in a match (or matches) during the Championship season due to his vaccination status will not be eligible for placement on COVID-19 IL, but rather may be placed on the shortlist … without salary or major league credited service accrual, during such downtime,” according to a letter from the assistant general counsel of the Players Union Matt Nussbaum to MLB Senior Vice President Patrick Houlihan, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press last week.
The letter says the deal covering unvaccinated players and travel to Canada expires at the end of the 2022 season.
“It’s definitely a personal decision,” Boone said. “Now if that’s something that becomes a problem, yes, I would have conversions with guys. But ultimately, it’s something that I consider a personal choice. I understand that’s one of those things that unfortunately polarize us as a nation, as a world.”
With the 99-day lockout ending Thursday with a new collective agreement, spring training will be about two weeks shorter than normal.
“There’s an urgency that exists with the schedule that’s going to create some pressure to want to prepare and I think that can be a really good thing,” Boone said.
Boone was not allowed to speak to players during the lockdown, calling the situation horrific. After a deal was reached last Thursday, Boone wasted no time in making contact.
“I kind of sat in my basement that first night and talked to probably 20, 25 guys in the first two hours just to get in touch with them, first and foremost to hear their voice and say ‘Hi’ and see how they are,” Boone said. “It was really weird not being able to communicate.”
The Yankees’ first full-team practice is Monday. New York’s first spring training game is scheduled for Friday against Pittsburgh at Bradenton.
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Outfielder Brett Gardner is a free agent after playing with the Yankees from 2008-21.
Although unlikely, Boone wouldn’t shut the door on the 38-year-old completely.
“There’s so much else going on right now and as we try to explore different options, deals, we’ll see how it all plays out,” Boone said. “But I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
ADDED TO CAMP
The Yankees invited left-handers Manny Bañuelos, right-handers Jimmy Cordero, Ryan Weber, Matt Bowman, Reggie McClain and Vinny Nittoli, receivers Rodolfo Durán, Rob Brantly, Max McDowell and David Freitas, infielder José Peraza, outfielders Ender Inciarte, Michael Beltre and Blake Perkins at major league spring training.
Bañuelos, who turned 31 on Sunday, signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent last December. He was originally signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent on March 30, 2008, and spent seven years in the New York minor league system before being traded to Atlanta.
New York signed outfielder Tim Locastro to a one-year major league contract on Sunday.