TAMPA — The Yankees face the risk of being shorthanded any time they play one of their AL East foes on the road this season.
Major League Baseball players who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to join their teams when they play against the Blue Jays in Toronto this season because of current Canadian border restrictions, a source confirmed to The Post on Friday.
Those players, who will be placed on the restricted list for trips to Toronto, also will not be paid or earn service time during those series, as WCVB in Boston first reported. MLB ended last season with more than 88 percent of its Tier 1 personnel (players, on-field staff and other personnel with access to players) fully vaccinated.
The Yankees had more than 85 percent of their Tier 1 personnel vaccinated last season, but not every player had been vaccinated. It was not immediately clear whether that had changed during the offseason, but it will bear watching as the Yankees play important games at Rogers Centre against a Blue Jays team on the rise that finished one game behind them in the division last year.
“It’s a concern,” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told reporters Friday. “I think as everyone knows — appreciate and respect the decisions that are made, particularly in regard to player health and community health. But that is an issue, as one in the pandemic itself that we’re navigating domestically, that we’re going to have to continue to try to work through here moving forward.”
The Yankees are scheduled to visit Toronto three times this season, for three three-game series in May, June and September.
That also has been the case for NHL and NBA players when their teams visit Toronto — such as Nets star Kyrie Irving, who is ineligible to play in at the Raptors’ Scotiabank Arena due to his unvaccinated status.
Because of border restrictions, the Blue Jays were forced to spend all of the 2020 season and most of 2021 playing their home games in the United States — split between minor league stadiums in Dunedin, Fla. and Buffalo. They finally returned to Rogers Centre on July 30 last season.
For the rest of the 2021 season, unvaccinated MLB players traveling to Toronto was not an issue because of a national interest exemption for professional and amateur athletes. But that exemption was revoked in January, potentially putting teams at a disadvantage when they visit the Blue Jays this season.