At the time the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals, Jose Vidro was the longest-tenured member of the team. I never did get used to him wearing the DC colors.
Being a Montreal Expos fan growing up wasn’t easy. Seeing all my favorite players become good then get traded away was hard. That’s kind of how I felt when Jose Vidro went from being an Expos player to a Nationals player.
I was a big Mark Grudzielanek fan when he roamed the astroturf covered concrete at Olympic Stadium, and then he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The only thing keeping me from devastation after that trade was the fact Jose Vidro would have a full-time position with second base being newly vacated.
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Swinging from both sides of the plate, Vidro really had a nice smooth stroke as a left-handed hitter. He was a gap hitter who drove the ball to the wall at will. He was an All-Star in 2000 and put up incredible numbers for a team that won only 67 games. The team belonged to Vladimir Guerrero, and rightly so, but Vidro hit .330 with 97 runs batted in and had 51 doubles. He also reached the 200 hit plateau for the season.
In 2002 when Major League Baseball took control of the Expos and uncertainty abound, Vidro kept on hitting and playing reliable defense for the team. He hit .315 and drove in 96 in what would prove to be another All-Star campaign.
In 2004 is when he cemented his legacy forever to Expos fans. In his walk year, he signed a 4 year/$30M contract to stay in Montreal. The modest salary was a big commitment for a small market ballclub and one which was unsure of its future. Vidro could have tested free agency, though showed his loyalty by staying with the only team he’d ever known.
Then the team moved to Washington. There were several players who wore the Montreal Expos colors and then moved over to play for the Nationals. None of them looked worse in a Washington uniform to me than Jose Vidro. He was an Expo in my eyes and nothing could ever change that.
Vidro battled injuries his two years in Washington before being traded to Seattle to play out the remaining two years of the contract he signed with Montreal. He hit .314 in 147 games in ’07, so I find it hard to believe there wasn’t a team wanting to bring him in for an audition once he hit free agency the next year.
Just as quietly as he played in Montreal, he walked away from baseball. In my eyes, he’ll always look best in those baby blues he wore with the Expos.