It was a pretty special moment last night to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in his return to Montreal. It almost seems like he’s come full circle in a way, having been born there in 1999 when his father was starring for the Expos. Even though before yesterday, Guerrero Jr. had yet to play a professional game there, the connection between him and the Montreal faithful was undeniable.
Entering the game in the 7th inning, Guerrero was welcomed with a standing ovation. I promise not to make a comparison between father and son in every piece I write about Guerrero Jr. this season, but his talent level and character is so much like his Dad that a lot of fans in attendance yesterday probably had a serious feeling of nostalgia.
Imagine being a die-hard Expos fan back in 2005 when Major League Baseball relocated the team to Washington. It would have been heartbreaking to say the least, especially after all the crap that lying scumbag Jeffrey Loria put them through. So to watch the son of one of the greatest (maybe the greatest) Expos ever must have gave quite a few fans last night goosebumps. The Expos haven’t been around for 14 years now, but it feels so fitting that once Guerrero is playing in the big leagues, he’ll be doing so with the Blue Jays.
As for how Guerrero performed in the first of a two game set against St.Louis, it was amazing and not all that surprising how serious the Cardinals were pitching him. In his first at-bat, he quickly went down 0-2, then proceeded to work the count back to 3-2 before flying out to left field. During his second at-bat, with the Blue Jays down 5-3 in the bottom of the 9th and Roemon Fields on 1st base, ex-Blue Jay Dominic Leone was pitching to Guerrero as if he represented the final out of the World Series.
Leone threw him nothing but off-speed junk. It was one of those moments where the established big leaguer, supposedly fine tuning his game for the start of the season let his competitive side (and pride) take over. Leone simply wanted to get Guerrero out and not let the uber-talented teenager get the best of him. Guerrero ended up hitting a hard ground ball to 2nd base for the second out of the inning. But to see the intensity with which the competition had when facing the 19-year old made it pretty clear just how much they respected and feared his skill as a player.