The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to play a majority of their home games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh this season, sources confirmed to ESPN, after federal officials in Canada refused to let the team host games at the Rogers Centre.
An official announcement is pending approval from the state of Pennsylvania, according to SportsNet, which first reported the news.
Canada’s government denied the Blue Jays’ request to play in Toronto because the regular-season schedule would require frequent travel from the United States, where COVID-19 cases are surging. The other 29 major league teams plan to play the pandemic-shortened, 60-game season in their home ballparks, without fans.
Toronto begins the season at Tampa Bay on Friday.
The schedules for the Pirates and Blue Jays match up almost perfectly. Aside from July 29, they don’t have a home game on the same date until Sept. 7. The Blue Jays are scheduled to host Washington — where they play their previous series — on July 29, but they theoretically could stay in Washington to play their scheduled two-game home series.
The Blue Jays play Sept. 1-2 in Miami and Sept. 3-6 in Boston. Instead of scheduled home games Sept. 7-9 against the Yankees — when Pittsburgh is at home — Toronto could go to New York and stay there for its scheduled home series Sept. 11-13 against the Mets. Road series against the Yankees and Phillies follow, and with Pittsburgh at home Sept. 21-24, the Blue Jays could play their next home series against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said he was excited about the PNC Park option, and Pirates manager Derek Shelton said he would have no problem with the Blue Jays moving in. The Pirates are led by former Blue Jays executive Ben Cherington.
Baltimore also had been considered as a possible host site, outfielder Randal Grichuk said Tuesday, as had the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, New York. Grichuk, however, said the players wanted to play in a major league stadium.
Pirates president Travis Williams confirmed the talks with the Blue Jays on Monday and sounded ready to welcome the club if it could be done safely amid the pandemic.
ESPNs Jeff Passan and The Associated Press contributed to this report.