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Jones had hits last season, third in the league, but Guerrero was right behind at On no other important list, even the speed-burning category of triples, did Jones lead his rival into the top Put them all together, however, and the only places where Guerrero takes a back seat based on last year's major numbers are batting average Ramirez hit.

I wouldn't be surprised to see him win a Triple Crown some year. It's a lot of fun playing with a guy like that, watching him play every day. Only Expos players get to do that day in and day out. That's because the Expos rarely appear on national television and haven't been to the playoffs since , when Guerrero was a 5-year-old begging to get picked for a stickball game in the dusty streets of his village of Nizao Bani.

Of course, what the Expos did or didn't accomplish in decades past has no particular relevance to Guerrero. He didn't grow up glued to nightly baseball highlights from the United States.

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Truth is, he's growing up right now. In the final South Florida exhibition game, however, he fouled a ball off his left foot and broke a bone. That injury, plus a broken hand in July, limited him to half a season, but still he hit. Scott Rolen of the Phillies got Rookie of the Year honors but he struggled with a bad back last season and hit only 26 homers.

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Whom would you rather have in your lineup on opening day ? He hit a couple of homers into the upper deck off us last year and one of them was a knuckleball by Dennis Springer that he hit to left-center. Sometimes I think the best thing to say, 'Here it is,' and put it right down the middle because he has such great plate coverage. Guerrero walked just 58 times last year and 23 of those were intentional, a major league high. What you tell the most under EXPOSed superstar in all of sports is as simple as he states it, and no more.

Touching Base with History

Just get ready, and do what you always do. Nobody else, it seems, can. Montreal's Vladimir Guerrero has played four full seasons in the majors. Here is how he compares with two great Hall of Fame members and two of the best of the current group of superstars at the same points in their major league careers:.

Tim Raines, 41, has 19 years of service in MLB, more than half of these, 10 seasons, with the Montreal Expos, from which he was traded in Considered one of the three best players ever to don the red, white, and blue of the Expos he returned to them in December , having signed a minor-league contract. They went in there really hard," he stated. Many organs can be attacked by lupus. When Raines began retaining fluids his kidneys were functioning at only 24 percent he was first tested for a kidney infection. However, upon being diagnosed with lupus he forgot about baseball and concentrated on his recovery.

He told himself it was not that bad and found out remission was likely. Following seven months of chemotherapy and other forms of treatment, Raines plotted a comeback. He signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees a year ago, but a broken toe ended that hope. Then he received a call from the United States Olympic baseball team and spent three months getting into shape looking forward to playing in Sydney.

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His real desire to return to the big leagues was fueled by what happened next. I took out three months of my time to get prepared and at the final hour they advised me that they weren't going to include me. It was upsetting the way it was handled," Raines stated. The next month when he was in Montreal, to be inducted into the Expos Hall of Fame, he approached team management about a possible comeback. Manager Felipe Alou knew Raines was serious and believed he would be a help this squad. Claire was a teammate with Raines for six seasons in Montreal and when he took his first look at him he knew why he was attempting a comeback.

Raines also has a strong desire to play in at least one big league game agains his son, Tim Raines Jr. He wasn't asking for a starting spot, although he wouldn't refuse it. He just wanted a chance. He was one of the few position players who started working out when the pitchers and catchers arrived in late February, often arriving in the clubhouse hours ealier than the remainder of the Expos.


In the final days of late March as the spring training games were winding down he was advised that he had, in fact, made the edition of the Montreal Expos. They're going out of their way to give me an opportunity. I just wanted to make the team.

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I can spot start. I can pinch hit. I'll do whatever is needed. The Montreal Expos were last in the big leagues in with just 58 stolen bases and their manager, Felipe Alou, is expecting more, or rather less, of the same in this season. Peter Bergeron? He has speed, but you don't see many stolen bases by him in the minor leagues. I like speed, but you can't use it if you don't have it. From they pilfered at least a minimum of bases every season, leading the National League in with a high of As late as they stole bases but with the exception of one year that figure has declined every season since, to in , to in , to in , to 75 in , to 91 in , to 70 in before the big drop-off in You hear guys say if you steal 70 bases, they don't pay you as much in arbitration as if you hit 40 home runs.

There are not that many smaller players left because guys are trying to get bigger and stronger. Not surprising news because the economics of the game makes it easy for players to see that they can make more money by clearing the bases than they can by stealing them. Bergeron, at 6-feet, pounds, knows that he is not going to outslug the big hitters in the game like McGwire, Sosa and Bonds, meaning that he has to manufacture runs any way he can.

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I'm sure there are a bunch of different reasons why it happened. The left-handed hitter has been clocked at 3. Now he just has to learn how to do use it successfully and efficiently. With Vladimir Guerrero having another big year at the plate, Bergeron was hesitant to take a chance on the basepaths. Typically, a team gets its speed from second base, shortstop and the outfield. Second baseman Jose Vidro stole five but was caught four times, but Beattie didn't mind because he hit 24 home runs and drove in 97 runs, while shortstop Orlando Cabrera had four steals and was caught four times.

The team got its best percentages on steals from Guerrero and Terry Jones Now with the return of Tim Raines, who led the National League in steals from , he should help greatly in this area.

Not necessarily with his year-old legs but, rather, with his accumulated wisdom in this area. But it seems it will be another season of station-to-station baseball for the Expos. We'll just have to keep playing the other way. Now that he is the major leagues' oldest manager, Felipe Alou doesn't want to hear that it has become a young man's job.

I just want to throw this out, that when I was a young man, nobody offered me a job. I just don't want anybody to say, well, now he's too old. When I was 38, I was available. When I was 40, I was available. When I was 50, I was available. Whatever reason the young man Felipe didn't get an offer, I just don't want anybody to say, well, now he's I don't buy that.

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Highly regarded among his peers and his players, Alou languished in the minor leagues for his first 12 years of his managerial career. He gained his first major league job with the Expos in , when he was 10 days beyond his 57th birthday. Nine years later, he continues to enjoy the job.

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