3/29/2014 12:01 A.M. ET
Raines thrilled with game's return to Montreal
By Heather Engel / Special to MLB.com
MONTREAL -- Nine and a half years after baseball bid Montreal adieu, it has returned for a visit.
The Blue Jays' camp has ventured north before setting sail on the regular season, closing out Spring Training with a two-game set against the Mets at Olympic Stadium, the Expos' longtime home.
"It's kind of like goosebumps. It almost feels like the first time I walked in here as a 19-year-old," said former Expos left fielder Tim Raines, now working for the Blue Jays as a roving outfield/baserunning instructor in their Minor League system.
Raines, who suited up for the Expos from 1979 to 1990 and then again in 2001, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 National League batting champion. His No. 30 is one of five retired by the franchise.
"[It] was a special time when I came back [in 2001]," he said. "The place was packed, and there was a 15-minute standing ovation. That was kind of like the last moment of something very special as a player."
The Mets-Blue Jays exhibition series comes at a time when buzz surrounding a potential return of Major League Baseball is quite loud. Former Expo Warren Cromartie has started the Montreal Baseball Project in an attempt to bring the sport back to the city.
"It's growing. It's really, really growing," Raines said of the project. "I remember when he first started, he called me. We were a part of that 1981 team that came here and kind of got it jump-started. If anybody can do it, Warren Cromartie can do it. When he puts his mind to something, he doesn't stop until it's done."
And should the day come and a franchise returns to Montreal, perhaps in the American League East with the Blue Jays, manager John Gibbons sees a good future between two Canadian teams.
"I'm sure there would be a rivalry, kind of like the [NHL's] Canadiens and Leafs," Gibbons said.
Buehrle ready for season after final tuneup
MONTREAL -- It's been a pretty good spring for Mark Buehrle, and he's hoping that carries over once the meaningful games get underway.
Buehrle made his fourth appearance of the spring on Friday night, giving up two runs on four hits while striking out two and walking one in four innings against the Mets. His homerless streak throughout the exhibition season remained intact as he tossed 73 pitches, 45 for strikes.
"At times you go through those stretches where you almost say, 'Man, I wish I was giving up some hits and home runs, and kind of get them out of the way for the season,' but I feel good," Buehrle said.
Manager John Gibbons liked what he saw.
"He pitched great," Gibbons said. "I thought that one mistake he made was to [Chris] Young, [who hit a two-run double], but he finally got him. He's the old warhorse. He knows what he needs to do to get ready and I think he's really excited because he's felt so good."
The veteran Buehrle, 35, finishes camp with seven runs allowed on 17 hits, three walks and five strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings, but the stats line isn't what he's focused on heading into the season.
"Obviously, the results in Spring Training don't mean [anything], but you still want to get people out, if it's in Spring Training or during the season," he said. "I feel good, and I think that's the biggest thing I'm taking out of this camp. I feel healthy, I'm ready to go, and hopefully, the results are there."
Gibbons to play regulars in Mets series
MONTREAL -- In a matter of days, the first pitch will be thrown on the Blue Jays' 2014 campaign. But before the curtain rises on the new season, there's the matter of the final spring outings, against the Mets at Olympic Stadium.
"I think it's just good to get out of the Spring Training routine. We'll play some games in front of a big crowd, get us ready for the opening of the season," manager John Gibbons said. "The crowd will kind of rejuvenate everybody. It's been a good camp so far, a good Spring Training for us. I think the guys are looking forward to a little change of scenery, jump-start them a little bit and get us going for the regular season."
Gibbons plans to start his regulars in both exhibition games, including shortstop Jose Reyes, who has been out since Saturday with a mild strain in his left hamstring. How long most stay in was yet to be determined, but in Reyes' case, the picture was a little clearer.
"[We] might cut it a little short [with him]," Gibbons said.
Heather Engel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.