PITTSBURGH -- For the fourth straight year, there will be Major League Baseball in Montreal. This time, the Pirates are getting in on the action.The Pirates will wrap up Spring Training next year with a pair of exhibition games against the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium north of the border.
PITTSBURGH -- For the fourth straight year, there will be Major League Baseball in Montreal. This time, the Pirates are getting in on the action.
The Pirates will wrap up Spring Training next year with a pair of exhibition games against the Blue Jays at Olympic Stadium north of the border. The clubs are scheduled to play Friday, March 31, at 7:05 p.m. ET and Saturday, April 1, at 1:05 p.m.
This will be the Bucs' first trip to Montreal since July 2004, when they played the Expos in their final season before moving to Washington and becoming the Nationals. Quebec hasn't seen regular-season Major League Baseball since the end of that year.
The two-game series will be the fourth set of preseason contests played in Montreal over the last four years, all of them involving the Blue Jays. The Jays played the Mets in 2014, the Reds in '15 and drew more than 100,000 fans for a pair of games against the Red Sox earlier this year.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle played seven games at Olympic Stadium during his career and spoke excitedly about the opportunity to revisit the ballpark next spring.
"My memories are watching the old videotape of Jarry Park and Rusty Staub, Le Grand Orange, playing. I was fortunate enough to play in games in Montreal. They had some good teams," Hurdle said. "Then it went the other direction where it wasn't a lot of excitement in the stands. It got hard. You had to really focus and maintain. Great city, old Montreal, beautiful."
There's another aspect of the trip that interested Hurdle when it was brought to his attention by general manager Neal Huntington. After a month of relatively calm, stress-free Grapefruit League games in Florida, the Pirates will be thrust into what could be a packed, sold-out stadium.
That environment, Hurdle hopes, will help prepare the Pirates for their season-opening series at Fenway Park in Boston.
"When Neal first brought it to my attention earlier in the year, we talked about the opportunity to play in front of a packed house. The two games they played this year were received very well, lot of excitement," Hurdle said. "You know you're going to play. You don't have to worry about weather. It will be a good way to re-energize and kick some things off. I think our guys will be excited about the opportunity."
Could one of those games be started by right-hander Jameson Taillon, a dual citizen of the United States and Canada? Hurdle smiled.
"Haven't we given that some thought?" he said. "How 'bout it? If he's not throwing, who knows, but it's a good thought."
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.