I was going into my 3rd year in the big leagues during the spring of 2002. I was technically a part of the Expo’s organization even though earlier that off-season the Marlin’s and Expo’s swapped front office and personnel. It was about half way through spring when I surprisingly got the day off. I had been playing and backing up all of that spring until this point, when I noticed I was one of the few position players not to make the trip to Vero Beach to face the Dodgers. I was grateful for the day off. I had some errands to run before my lovely wife was to arrive for a week in Jupiter, Florida. Typically, on a day off during spring training I would get a brief, yet quality, groundball session in to get loose then head to the cage for about 45 minutes before getting a light lift in. Today was slightly different due to the timing of the unforeseen off-day and the fact that it was raining in the morning. This meant no grounders and the covered cages had the entire minor league system in them, this included my little brother Greg. My roster spot on the Expo’s was secure even though there was a massive turn over in management. Knowing this, I took full advantage of using the day off to get things in order before my wife was to arrive.
Initially I was hesitant to leave the field so early. Those who have played baseball know that it is frowned on to leave the complex too early. The bus had left for Vero Beach and there was a skeleton crew of staff left to keep an eye on me, so I bailed unceremoniously. My first move was to head to the bank and deposit my meal money then head to the grocery store to stock up on food and beverages before racing home to clean my apartment of course! I wasn’t 15 minutes away from the spring training complex when my Nokia 6360 lit up in the center console next to me. I expected it to be my wife but she knew I was usually busy this time of morning during spring training. As I glanced to see the incoming call, I didn’t notice the number but I definitely noticed where the number was originating from…. Jupiter. My initial thought was, DAMN IT, I’m busted for bailing early. I knew I had to take the call but for a brief, fleeting second I tried to convince myself to ignore it. I couldn’t and picked up.
“Hello?”, I said.
“Geoff, this is, (I can’t remember his name but it was an intern in the front office). Could you please hold? Omar Minaya, the General Manager would like to speak with you.” Holy crap! The GM is calling me because I bailed early today?!! This can’t be good. “Sure,” I said, as calmly as I could.
“Geoff, this is Omar Minaya, how are you?”. I of course replied with, “Good” and began to explain why I had left early hoping he would understand when he abruptly cut me off.
“Geoff, I need you to return to the complex because we’ve made a personal move. We had the opportunity to acquire an everyday 3rd baseman and I have made a trade. We have traded you to the Houston Astro’s for 3rd baseman Chris Truby.” At first I was appalled at the fact that he didn’t consider me an everyday 3rd baseman (remember I was young and full of wild dreams at the time). My next thought was, this is awesome!!! I’m going from a socialist country where half my paycheck was being taken by the government in return for IOU tax returns, to a state that has no income tax?!! YEE-HAW! Just kidding, that was an older Geoff statement.
As calm as I could I replied to Omar with, “I understand the move had to be made.” When I hung up I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed with excitement about joining an organization I had watched play against the Dodgers and Padres in the NL West. I was going from a team of blossoming stars to a team of bona-fide stars and potential Hall of Famer’s. I was thoroughly excited about the move.
I pulled into the complex expecting to be met by front office staff, trainers or a member of the coaching staff. Crickets. Instead I was met by a cardboard box filled with all my equipment just inside the door of the clubhouse. What personnel was around, I said goodbye to and left the clubhouse. Before heading to my car I walked over to the covered cages and interrupted about 150 guys taking batting practice. I found my brother, strolled over, told him the news, gave him a great big bear hug and told him good luck.
I loved my time with the Montreal Expo’s. They gave me the opportunity to achieve my ultimate dream to be a Major League Baseball player. I played with some of the greatest people and players. The list is long and distinguished. As grateful as I was to the organization and the city, it was time to move on. This trade was the easiest. All I had to do was redirect my wife’s flight. I would be traded 2 seasons later and the circumstances a little different, I’ll explain later.