Charlie Montoyo was a 27-year-old infielder still trying to carve out a major league career the last time he stepped on the field at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.
Montoyo, now the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, returned to the city Monday as his team opened a two-game exhibition series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
“I’m never going to forget having my first hit of two here,” Montoyo said. “That’s a memory that I’m always going to have. Hopefully they (show) the highlights before the game. They’d have to stop the game for five seconds.”
Montoyo, who was drafted by the Brewers twice – in 1986 and 1987 – made his major league debut with the Expos in 1993, appearing in four games with a pair of hits and three runs batted in. But that would be it for his major league playing career.
Montoyo sat in a familiar spot in the Olympic Stadium dugout when addressing the media before Monday’s game, a 10-5 win for the Brewers. It was the same spot he was sitting in when former manager Felipe Alou asked him to pinch hit for his first major league appearance against the Colorado Rockies.
“I got here late, like 7:00 or 7:10 or something. I said hello to Felipe and I put my uniform on and sat on the bench,” Montoyo said of that day. “Until the seventh inning when he said, ‘if they bring the lefty you’re going to go pinch hit.“’ The Rockies brought in left-hander Gary Wayne and Montoyo stepped to the plate. He said there were no butterflies in his stomach when he eventually hit the go-ahead RBI single before closer John Wetteland preserved the 4-3 victory.
“There were butterflies when I went to play defence because I hadn’t taken any ground ball or anything,” said Montoyo, who will make his official debut as a MLB manager when the season begins Thursday. “But Wetteland was lights out. 1-2-3 and game over. I was the hero.”
A number of longtime former Expos, including Canadian Larry Walker, Steve Rogers, and former manager Alou were on hand pre-game to be commemorated for the team’s 50th anniversary.
Montoyo’s two hits as an Expo didn’t feature in the celebration, however.
Earlier Monday, the Blue Jays signed right-handed reliever Daniel Hudson to a one-year, $US1.5 million contract.
The Jays were looking for relief depth after Bud Norris, Ryan Tepera and John Axford suffered injuries in the past week.
Hudson, 32, had a 4.11 earned-run average, 44 strikeouts and 18 walks across 46 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018. The six-foot-three, 225-pound Hudson has been in the majors for nine seasons.
In another move, the Blue Jays placed second baseman Devon Travis (knee) on the 60-day injured list.