Blue Jays tab starters for upcoming Montreal series

The Toronto Blue Jays announced their starters for their two-game exhibition series versus the Pittsburgh Pirates in Montreal this upcoming weekend.

This will be the fourth consecutive spring training that the Blue Jays conclude their preseason with two contests at Olympic Stadium in “La Belle Province”. The Jays have previously hosted the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox last season.

The festivities kick off Friday evening when Marcus Stroman will get the ball in front of a packed house. Last season the two games drew a combined 106,000 fans as Montreal continues their bid for baseball to return on a permanent basis.

Prior to Friday’s game, there will be a tribute to newly elected Hall of Famer and former Expos great Tim Raines as some of his former teammates will be on hand to pay their respects.

For the afternoon contest on Saturday former Pirates hurler, Francisco Liriano will take the bump versus his former team. Liriano was traded to the Blue Jays last summer along with prospects Reese McGuire and Harold Ramirez in exchange for pitcher Drew Hutchison.

My personal highlight of the series was in 2015 when Russell Martin‘s father played the national anthem as the catcher looked on while fighting back the tears. The elder Martin would later get the intern manager tag to come onto the field to remove his son from the game to a standing ovation from the over 50,000 in attendance. It was a great sports moment that really emphasized the human element that is attached to the game.

The Blue Jays usually include a handful players from their minor league camp to accompany the big boys to Montreal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr. make the trek with the team seeing his father was such an integral part of the Expos organization.

The Pirates also have a few Canucks on their roster who could see action in prospect Eric Wood and pitcher Jameson Taillon who has Canadian roots. They have yet to announce their starters for the weekend affair.

Regardless of the scores this weekend, anytime there is baseball back in Montreal, it’s a good day.