Blue Jays-Pittsburgh plan denied permission by State of Pennsylvania

Blue Jays Pittsburgh plan
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The Blue Jays-Pittsburgh plan, reported this morning, is not happening: the Pennsylvania Health Department has denied the team permission to play its games at PNC Park.

The specific reasons for the denial of the Blue Jays-Pittsburgh plan have yet to be reported but it makes sense that doubling the number of people and events in a confined space when almost all group activities have been banned was going to be met with skepticism. The most surprising thing in all of this, in fact, is that Major League Baseball, apparently, did not obtain signoff from Pennsylvania before the Blue Jays and Pirates began discussion about the arrangement.

As previously reported, the Canadian government has prohibited the Toronto Blue Jays from playing their games in the country, citing the risk of travel by players and team staff into Canada from the COVID-19-ridden United States. Two days ago rumors began circling that the Jays and Pirates were considering sharing PNC Park for Jays home games. Overnight multiple reporters heard from MLB sources that the plan to play there was a go, but that’s no longer the case.

The options for the Blue Jays now seem to be (a) minor league parks; (b) another big league stadium, not yet identified; or (c) becoming like the 1899 Cleveland Spiders and playing a 100% road schedule.

Their “home” opener is now a week away. Pitter patter.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

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BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”