The Texas Rangers arrived in Toronto with their entire expected opening-day roster on the trip to the country that requires all visitors to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at least 14 days prior to entry.
“We have to follow the rules of law, and we have to do exactly what everybody else does coming into Canada,” manager Chris Woodward said Wednesday during a Zoom call with Rangers media. “There were no issues. ... So far, so good.”
After playing its final spring training game in Arizona on Tuesday, the team flew directly to Toronto, where each person in the travel party had to submit proof of vaccination as part of the arrival process. Texas plays its season opener Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Woodward said players were allowed to make their own decisions regarding vaccinations.
The players had a mandatory day off Wednesday and will work out at Rogers Centre on Thursday.
“What we want to do is make sure opening day is a little bit lighter load for them, not cram a bunch of meetings in,” Woodward said. “Getting here two days early is actually really good for our players.”
Before returning to the United States after the three-game series, they all will have to provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken no earlier than Saturday or provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from the virus in the 90 days before the trip.
The Rangers play their home opener Monday against Colorado. The season-opening series against Toronto is their only scheduled trip to Canada this season and first visit there since August 2019.
The Blue Jays played home games in three different cities last season when they went 91-71 and finished one game behind New York and Boston in the AL wild-card race.
Second baseman Marcus Semien was an All-Star and a Gold Glove winner last year in his only season with the Blue Jays before signing a $175 million, seven-year contract with the Rangers.
“(Toronto) has got a ton of buzz around it, as do we. They’ve made a lot of really positive changes,” Woodward said. “They lost their best player last year, in my opinion, but we were able to get that one in Marcus.”
Among the other offseason additions for the Rangers were two-time All-Star shortstop Corey Seager and right-hander Jon Gray, who will make his Rangers debut starting the season opener.
Woodward played with five teams during parts of 12 big league seasons, mostly with the Blue Jays. He played 362 of his 659 career games for Toronto, where he began his career from 1999-2004 and finished it in 2011.
“I spent a lot of time in the city, and know the city well. It’s obviously changed a lot since I’ve really, really been here,” Woodward said. “But, you know, still looks the same. It’s a little colder than Arizona, which feels good a little bit.”