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Rumors circulated all winter that the only Expo with any seniority, Andre Dawson, might be dealt. "I was sure I would be gone," said Dawson, whose teammates were so happy to see him at camp this spring that they lined up to shake his hand. But after nine years as the star, Dawson may have to adjust to playing a supporting role. "You do have to have recognizable people to draw out the fans," he says in his own defense.
With a left knee that could qualify for social security, Dawson, 31, now plays second banana to Tim Raines, who seems to get better every year. Raines led the Expos in hitting (.320), runs (115) and steals (70) last season.
The rest of the cast isn't too shabby, either. Hubie Brooks became the first NL shortstop in 25 years to get 100 RBIs. Third baseman Tim Wallach hit 22 home runs and earned his first Gold Glove. And centerfielder Mitch Webster is no longer an unknown. When he first showed up in the middle of last season, his teammates thought he was a reporter. Now the Expos recognize him as a man with speed and power.
Rookie Andres Galarraga had been ordained as the starting first baseman by manager Buck Rodgers early in the spring, but after he hit .145 the Expos traded for Jason Thompson. Now, the two of them will platoon.
The Expos hope a revamped pitching staff will carry them past mid-August this season. At that point in '85 they were in the race with the Mets and the Cards, but Montreal disappeared when three starting pitchers went down in four days. "There was nobody waiting in the wings," said ace Bryn Smith, 18-5.
So the Expo front office went shopping for more arms. Bill Gullickson (14-12) was traded to the Reds for pitchers Andy McGaffigan, Jay Tibbs and John Stuper (21-24 combined last year). Stuper has already been cut. As protection for the starters, Montreal has the best bullpen in the NL with Jeff Reardon and Tim Burke.
Brooks and Dawson were sitting in the dugout recently arguing about their rookie first baseman, playing a variation on the old to-MAY-to/to-MAH-to routine. While Dawson said the name was pronounced "Gala-RAY-ga," Brooks said "Gala-RAH-ga."
The Expos are praying he's not a Babe ruse.
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