Blue Jays to play their “home” games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh this season

The Toronto Blue Jays, the only Major League Baseball team not permitted to play their home games at their own ballpark this season, finally have a place to call home for the summer.

Pittsburgh has never looked so beautiful.

The Blue Jays have reached an agreement with the Pirates to play as many as 28 of their 30 home games at PNC Park this summer, a high-ranking baseball official told USA TODAY Sports. The person spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the decision has not been publicly announced.

The Blue Jays will play two of their originally scheduled home games against the Nationals at their ballpark in Washington, D.C. on July 29-30, simply staying put after playing two road games at Nationals Park on July 27-28.  They will also play a “home’’ series against the Yankees in September at Yankee Stadium.

The Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates play an exhibition baseball game at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Saturday, July 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Photo: The Associated Press)

The Blue Jays were denied permission by the Canadian government last weekend playing games in Toronto, forcing the move.

The Blue Jays considered playing in nearby Buffalo at one point, but the players strongly objected, wanting to play in a major-league facility.

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“Most guys don’t want to play in a AAA ballpark,’’ Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk said on a teleconference call Tuesday. “Training room, weight room, those aren’t really up to big-league standards.”

The Blue Jays now can stay in downtown Pittsburgh, walking distance from the ballpark, while keeping their taxi squad in Buffalo, a three-hour drive away.

And just like that, the Blue Jays have become the Harlem Globetrotters of baseball, a traveling show with no home.

“I’m almost treating it as a two-month, on-the-road exploration somewhere,’’ Blue Jays infielder Joe Panik told reporters on a teleconference call this week. “From years past, me and my wife always pack up a car and ship it out with all the home stuff. Now it’s clothes and telling my wife I’ll see you wherever I see you. …

“It’s not a joking matter, but we kind of laugh about it, the way 2020 has gone in so many different ways. When I played (in Toronto) last year on the road, I fell in love with the city, being able to walk around the city, go to the ballpark. It was a fun place to be. Now that we’re not going to be able to play here is disappointing.

“The guys in that clubhouse, that is what is going to help us get through the 60 games no matter what. We’re going to be spending most of the time with each other, we have a good group in there and that’s what is going to get us through the time.”

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