The Expos have finally raised the roof in Olympic Stadium. Unfortunately, they didn't get it done in time to prevent most of the talent from flying away. "All the Expos have left is Hubie Brooks and Tim Wallach," says ex-Montreal relief ace Jeff Reardon, who was traded to the Twins. "You can't go too far with two everyday players."
Reardon was exaggerating, but his departure and the losses of free agents Andre Dawson and Tim Raines have left Montreal exposed. With all sorts of jobs open, Montreal used its spring camp to take a hard look at rookies and retreads. "We know most of them can't play every day or go nine innings," admitted manager Buck Rodgers. "If they could, they wouldn't be in this camp fighting for jobs."
Montreal had a choice of starters Neal Heaton or Mike Smithson in the Reardon trade, so the Expos asked pitching consultant George Bamberger for his opinion. "I like Heaton," said Bamberger. When he heard whom Montreal gave up, though, Bamberger called back and said, "I didn't like him that much."
Montreal's first-class infield will be back after a star-crossed year. Shortstop Brooks, who was leading the league in batting (.340) when he suffered a thumb injury on Aug. 1, has twiddled his way back into shape with thumb isometrics. Also back in health are third baseman Wallach, bedeviled last season with toe and ankle fractures and a sprained wrist, and first baseman Andres Galarraga, who spent two months on the DL with knee and rib problems.
But unless Raines returns on May 1, the whole team will be hurting this year.
Montreal is his eighth major league team, and his sixth in the past seven years.
Led NL with 13 triples; all coming on fields with artificial turf.
Andres the Giant was born on June 18, 1961, the day that Eddie Gaedel died.
Hit 13 home runs in his first 43 games, one homer in 37 games thereafter.
One of three NL players with 18+ homers and 70+ RBIs in each of past five years.
A modern Gil McDougald (he has been a regular at 2B, SS and 3B), he also pitched last year.
On the whole, would rather be in Philadelphia, where he is 20 for 40 with 2 HRs.
Batted .524 (11 for 21) vs. Mets last season; Gary Carter hit .224 against the Expos.
Only starter to hold opposing hitters below .200 over past two seasons.
Batting support: 3.66 runs per start, 4th lowest in AL last year.
Tied for second in NL with his 15 no-decision starts.
Opponents' slugging average (.316) was lowest since his rookie season in 1977.
Another Yankee pitching prospect that got away, acquired by Expos in '83 for Pat Rooney.