Yankees’ Aaron Boone concerned about impact of Canadian COVID-19 rules

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
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TAMPA, Fla. — New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone is concerned about the roster impact stemming from rules that Major League Baseball players who aren’t vaccinated against the coronavirus won’t be allowed to travel into Canada to face the Blue Jays in Toronto.

Canada’s government requires a person must have received a second vaccine dose – or one dose of Johnson & Johnson – at least 14 days prior to entry.

“It will be interesting, to say the least how that situations unfolds,” Boone said Sunday. “I think we still have a few guys at least that aren’t vaccinated, so we’ll be monitoring that situation closely and see how that plays out. But yeah, it’s an 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, as a result of such a governmental regulation is unable or ineligible to play in a championship season game (or games) due to his vaccination status will be ineligible for placement on the COVID-19 IL, but rather may be placed on the restricted list … without pay or the accrual of credited major league service, during such period of unavailability,” according to a letter from players’ union deputy general counsel 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 agreement 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 it’s something that becomes an issue, yeah I would have conversions with guys. But ultimately it’s something that I do look at as a personal choice. I understand it’s one of those things that’s kind of polarized us unfortunately as a nation, as a world.”

With the 99-day lockout ending Thursday with a new collective bargaining agreement, spring training will be about two weeks shorter than normal.

“There’s urgency that exists with the calendar that’s going to create some pressure to want to get ready and I think that can be a really good thing,” Boone said.

Boone was not allowed to talk to players during the lockout, calling that situation awful. 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 probably talked to 20, 25 guys in that first couple hours just to touch base with them, first and foremost to hear their voice and say `Hi’ and see how they’re doing,” Boone said. “It was really odd not being able to communicate.”

The Yankees’ first full-squad workout is Monday. New York’s initial spring training game is set for Friday against Pittsburgh in Bradenton.

OPEN DOOR?

Outfielder Brett Gardner is a free agent after playing with the Yankees from 2008-21.

Although unlikely, Boone would not completely close the door on the 38-year old.

“There’s so many other things going on as well right now and trying 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 lefty Manny Banuelos, right-handers Jimmy Cordero, Ryan Weber, Matt Bowman, Reggie McClain and Vinny Nittoli, catchers Rodolfo Duran, Rob Brantly, Max McDowell and David Freitas, infielder Jose Peraza, outfielders Ender Inciarte, Michael Beltre and Blake Perkins to major league spring training.

Banuelos, who turned 31 Sunday, signed with the Yankees as a minor league free agent last December. He was originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent on March 30, 2008, and spent seven years in New York’s minor league system before being traded to Atlanta.

New York signed outfielder Tim Locastro on Sunday to a one-year major league contract.