Blue Jays to play first two homestands in Florida

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(Reuters) - The Toronto Blue Jays will play their first two homestands of the 2021 regular season in Dunedin, Florida due to border closures between Canada and the United States amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Major League Baseball (MLB) team said on Thursday.

Home games will be played at the TD Ballpark, which serves as the Blue Jays' spring training facility.

Toronto begin their season with three-games series at New York Yankees and Texas Rangers before hosting the Los Angeles Angels and the Yankees.

"With the ongoing Canada-U.S. border closure, the Blue Jays have made the difficult decision to play the first two homestands of the 2021 regular season at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, FL, with the hopes of a return to play at Rogers Centre as soon as possible," the team said in a statement.

"Next to the health and safety of our fans, players and staff, the Blue Jays' top priority is returning home to play on Canadian soil as soon as it is safe to do so.

"The club has been actively working through plans for what a safe return to Rogers Centre could look like, while also scenario planning alternatives."

The Blue Jays played their home games of the shortened 2020 season in Buffalo, New York. They last played at the Rogers Centre in September 2019.

The MLB will begin its 162-game season in April.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)