Toronto left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr., left, watches teammate Teoscar Hernandez, right, spray sanitizer in the dugout during the first inning of an intersquad baseball action in Toronto on Friday. The Blue Jays have been denied approval by the Canadian government to play in Toronto amid the coronavirus pandemic. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP

The Toronto Blue Jays are talking to the Pittsburgh Pirates about sharing their major league ballpark this season after Canada’s government barred them from playing in their home stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pirates President Travis Williams confirmed the talks and sounded ready to welcome the Blue Jays.

“In an effort to help in the return of the game we all love, we continue to have active discussions with Major League Baseball and the Toronto Blue Jays organization regarding the possibility of hosting home games for the Blue Jays at PNC Park this season,” Williams said in a statement Monday.

“This will be a monumental challenge for our staff, but leaning in to help others is what Pittsburghers do best. If we are able to safely accommodate, not only will it bring additional international attention to our city, it will also bring with it jobs and revenue for local hotels, restaurants and other businesses that will support the Blue Jays organization as well as additional visiting teams.”

Blue Jays Manager Charlie Montoyo said he was pleased to read what the Pirates said.

“That’s encouraging that they feel that way about us coming,” he said. “Going to Pittsburgh, that’s a beautiful ballpark. I already brought 10 Roberto Clemente T-shirts that I brought with me for some reason.”

The Pirates are led by former Blue Jays executives Ben Cherington and Steve Sanders.

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said earlier Monday that his team has more than five contingency plans and was in talks with other teams. He declined to name them.

FAUCI FIRST PITCH: The country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the first game of Major League Baseball’s pandemic-delayed regular season.

The Washington Nationals announced Monday that Fauci — a self-described fan of the reigning World Series champions — accepted the team’s invitation to have the pregame honor Thursday.

The Nationals will host the New York Yankees to open the season nearly four months after it originally was scheduled to begin.

BRAVES:  The Atlanta Braves have removed a “Chop On” sign that sat near an entrance to Truist Park and are still considering their stance on the fans’ tomahawk chop chant.

The removal of the wooden sign came as the team changed its slogan from “Chop On” to “For The A” for the 2020 season.

A new slogan is customary marketing strategy, but the team’s stance on the chant has been watched closely since last year’s NL Division Series.

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, said he found the chant insulting. The Braves did not distribute the red foam tomahawks before the decisive Game 5 of the series, won by the Cardinals, “out of respect for the concerns” expressed by Helsley.

The Braves said they would continue to examine the chant after the 2019 season, a process that continues. Since there will be no fans at Braves’ home games for at least the start of the pandemic-delayed 60-game season, the team may feel no urgency to release a new policy on the chant.

Braves fans began chopping and chanting in the early 1990s. The team has encouraged the chant by playing music and distributing the foam tomahawks.

The Braves open their season at the New York Mets on Friday. Their first home game is July 29 against Tampa.

ROYALS: Kansas City placed right-hander Jakob Junis on the injured list Monday to allow him to continue preparing for the upcoming season after he missed the first part of summer camp following a positive test for the coronavirus.

The 27-year-old Junis test positive for COVID-19 during initial testing several weeks ago. The Royals said he was cleared about a week ago to return to baseball activities but that he is not yet ready for regular-season competition. Junis went 9-14 with a 5.24 ERA in 31 starts last season.

The Royals were supposed to play an exhibition game against the Houston Astros on Monday night, but rain in Kansas City could prevent that from happening. Their 60-game regular season begins Friday night in Cleveland with left-hander Danny Duffy on the mound, and the Royals’ first home game is July 31 against the White Sox.

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