Cubs put Sampson, Steele on restricted list, add Little

TORONTO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs put right-hander Adrian Sampson and left-hander Justin Steele on the restricted list before opening a three-game series at Toronto on Monday night.

Foreign nationals who aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19 aren’t allowed to enter Canada, save for limited exceptions that require a 14-day quarantine. Unvaccinated baseball players are placed on the restricted list, where they are not paid and do not accrue major league service time.

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.

Sampson pitched fewer than four innings in his start against Milwaukee on Sunday, meaning he could be replaced Monday. Steele pitched 5 1/3 innings against the Brewers on Friday, meaning he can be replaced for Tuesday night’s game.

Steele is 4-7 with a 3.18 ERA in 24 starts, while Sampson is 1-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 14 games, 12 starts.

Chicago added left-hander Brendon Little as a substitute player. Little was 3-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 29 relief appearances at Triple-A Iowa, recording one save in two chances.

The Cubs are the final new visitor to Toronto this season. All four of the Blue Jays’ AL East rivals will cross the border in September for their third and final visits of the regular season.

In total, 45 players have been put on the restricted list for games against the Blue Jays, with Boston pitcher Tanner Houck missing two series in Toronto.

Kansas City had a league-high 10 players absent for a series before the All-Star game, including Whit Merrifield, who later got vaccinated and was traded to Toronto at the deadline.

Baltimore’s Anthony Santander and Keegan Akin also got vaccinated after missing a series in Canada.

The Yankees, Rangers and Astros all brought full vaccinated rosters to Toronto. So did Baltimore on its most recent trip earlier in August.

Since their last visit, the Yankees have acquired outfielder Andrew Benintendi, one of the 10 Royals to miss Kansas City’s July visit to Toronto.

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