Hope springs eternal in Montreal as Bucs, Jays arrive

Former Montreal Expos reliever and coach Claude Raymond (16) and Brad Wilkerson stand front and centre saying goodbye to fans at the final home in 2004. Sept. 29, 2004. Photo: Carpenter/Montreal Gazette.

Former Montreal Expos reliever and coach Claude Raymond (16) and Brad Wilkerson stand front and centre saying goodbye to fans at the final home in 2004. Sept. 29, 2004. Photo: Carpenter/Montreal Gazette.

By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network

Major League Baseball told this website March 30 that it supports all cities interested in gaining a new franchise.

MLB spokesman Pat Courtney was commenting on a March 29 Canadian Press report that said Montreal investors had been given a sort of preliminary approval in their quest in returning baseball to that city.

Quoting a source, the CP story said Montreal investors had met conditions laid out by Major League Baseball to get a team back in Montreal.

“The group apparently has a solid financial set-up, support from two levels of government and various potential locations for a stadium,’’ the CP report said.

Garber was on TSN 690 with legendary host Mitch Melnick to say  “There’s this great desire to have Major League Baseball in Montreal. But it’s not as advanced as this story would make it sound.”

Said Courtney: “This has not been communicated to us, but we are always happy when cities show a genuine interest in MLB.”

Courtney said commissioner Rob Manfred would not be attending the Jays-Pirates series in Montreal this weekend.

Mayor Denis Coderre has made progress.

Mayor Denis Coderre

Mayor Denis Coderre


NOTES: Safety and security. That’s Major League Baseball’s mandate in endeavouring to concentrate on at spring-training parks this year and staff at Olympic Stadium in Montreal will do its roll out for the Jays-Pirates’ exhibition games March 31-April 1. So what it means is that media and the general public will be screened and frisked. If you are parking indoors at the Big O, the screening will commence in the garage. That’s right. If you arrive by foot or by the Metro subway system, the protocol will begin outside the entrance to the ballpark. This was the first year of spring training where reporters and club officials were screened and frisked in Florida and Arizona. From what I saw in West Palm Beach and Jupiter, the exception was players. In Jupiter, the screening apparatus was erected directly in front of the entrance to the Marlins’ offices. “Does that mean Jeffrey Loria has to go through this?’’ I jokingly asked a Marlins club official about the Marlins’ owner. “Everybody,’’ the guy said. This was also the first year that non-mainstream media representatives such as myself had to go through an official credentials application process through mlb.com. For each game I wanted to be accredited for, we had to apply to get a separate pass. In past years, we just sent an email to the individual team to get a pass. The new process was designed to be more efficient, more organized and more streamlined. Special media credentials printing machines were even set up in each team’s office to accommodate the new process. One day at the Cardinals’ office in Jupiter, the machine broke down ... 

The Washington Nationals heard about this crack neuro-muscular physician from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. by the name of Dr. Keith Pyne so they hired him. He lives part of the year in wine country and in New York City where he operates a practice. I guess he’s so good that he had been a personal medical advisor to Yankees’ iconic pitcher Mariano Rivera. “They came after me,’’ Dr. Pyne told me when I asked him how a Canadian ended up with the Nationals. “I try to stay underground.’’ Years ago, Yankees GM Brian Cashman admonished Pyne for telling a reporter that Rivera was healthy enough to return and pitch when the club said the reverse. He’s officially listed as the Nationals’ chairman of the medical services advisory board. ...

Don’t forget the second annual Exposfest to be held all day April 2 at Place Centre Ville in Montreal. Former major-leaguer Eric Gagné will attend along with former Expos Andre Dawson, Bob Bailey, Dennis Martinez, Cliff Floyd, Rondell White, David Palmer, Jeff Reardon and Al Oliver. More than 2,000 people are expected to attend. Whew. The fund-raiser is in aid of research for a rare brain cancer DIPG. Catherine Demes, a young niece of Exposfest organizer Perry Giannis, died of the disease a few years ago. Bill Young and I will be there somewhere, setting up shop at a table and selling our book Ecstasy to Agony. I’m going to be talking about Exposfest, the Jays’ series and the possibility of baseball returning to Montreal during a live, four-minute segment scheduled April 1 at 7:10 p.m. on CTV NewsChannel. I’ll be doing the segment out of the CTV Montreal studio facility on Papineau Ave. Check it out. I did an interview with Scott Laurie March 29 about similar-type topics and the new segment will expand on it all. We were going to try to do the interview via FaceTime but it couldn’t be worked out. ...

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame member and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Tim Raines is signing copies of his book Rock Solid April 2, 3 p.m., at the Indigo Place Montreal Trust store on McGill Ave. in Montreal. The book retails for $32.99. The book is published in Canada by Harper Collins and in the U.S. by Chicago-based Triumph Books. The U.S. version isn’t scheduled for publication until June. Raines is being honoured prior to the March 31st game at the Big O to honour his induction into Cooperstown. ...

In an attempt to get comments from the agents for Blue Jays Devon Travis, Roberto Osuna and Kevin Pillar, who are pre-arbitration eligible, I managed to track one down on his cell phone March 30. He had no interest in being quoted. “Off the record,’’ he said. “For players with 0-3 years of service, teams use service time, performance & other variables to create their own sale in their system. It’s not appropriate to talk about my clients.’’