TORONTO, ONT – Mariners left-hander Robbie Ray isn't joining Seattle for a series in Toronto this week, missing a chance to celebrate the Cy Young Award he won with the Blue Jays last season amid border restrictions related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Ray pitched against the Mets in New York on Sunday, then remained in the U.S. while teammates traveled to Canada for Monday's series opener.
There was no locker for Ray in the Mariners’ clubhouse in Toronto. Manager Scott Servais said Ray will rejoin the team in Boston on Thursday for a four-game series against the Red Sox. He did not elaborate on the left-hander’s absence.
To enter the country, the Canadian government requires a person to have received a second COVID-19 vaccine dose — or one dose of Johnson & Johnson — at least 14 days before entry.
Players who go on the restricted list because they are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are not paid and do not accrue major league service time, according to a March agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.
The agreement also stipulates that a pitcher who has pitched at least four consecutive innings in a game cannot be replaced on the active roster unless three days have elapsed.
The Mariners took advantage of a May 12 day off to alter their rotation so that Ray started Sunday in New York, where he allowed five runs in six innings, improving to 4-3.
Ray went 13-7 with a 2.84 ERA and a career-high 248 strikeouts in 32 starts for Toronto last season, when professional athletes were exempt from COVID-19 border regulations.
Ray then signed a $115 million contract, five-year contract with Seattle in November. He would have lost $346,154 had he been placed on the restricted list for being ineligible to accompany the team to Canada. Border exemptions for athletes ended in January.
The Mariners did put Drew Steckenrider on the restricted list Monday, a move that could cost the right-hander $51,099 of his $3.1 million salary. Steckenrider is 0-1 with two saves and a 4.85 ERA in 14 relief appearances. The series is Seattle’s only regular-season visit to Toronto.
Seattle selected the contract of left-hander Roenis Elías from Triple-A Tacoma. He had joined the Mariners at Citi Field on Sunday in anticipation of being added to the active big league roster.
Elías signed a minor league contract with the Mariners on April 1. He previously pitched for Seattle in 2014 and ’15, and again in 2018 and ’19. He also has pitched for Boston and Washington.
Elías, 33, last pitched in the majors with the Nationals in 2019. He had a 4.30 ERA in one start and 10 relief appearances at Triple-A Tacoma, striking out 11 and walking four in 14 2/3 innings.
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