By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Former Montreal Expos second baseman Johnny Paredes passed away on Thursday in Maracaibo, Venezuela after a battle with cancer at the age of 58.
Born on September 2, 1962 in Maracaibo, Ven., Paredes spent parts of seven seasons in the Expos’ organization after he was signed as a free agent by the club on January 12, 1984.
Most heralded for his defence, the 5-foot-11, 165-pound infielder rose slowly through the Expos’ ranks before putting himself firmly on the big league’s club radar when be batted .312 with 154 hits and 30 stolen bases in 130 games for the club’s triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis in 1987.
That performance put him in contention with Casey Candaele for the Expos’ starting second baseman’s job the following spring. Paredes initially lost out to Candaele and was sent to triple-A to begin the season, but after Candaele struggled, Paredes was recalled on April 27.
In his first major league game on April 29, 1988, he started at second base and batted eighth against the Houston Astros at the Astrodome and went 1-for-3 with a walk. His first major league hit was a single in the sixth inning off Astros right-hander Danny Darwin that knocked in fellow Venezuelan Andres Galarraga.
Two days later, Paredes clubbed his only major league home run. In the top of the 14th inning, the Expos had already taken a 4-3 lead over the Astros when the 25-year-old second baseman, who had two hits earlier in the contest, hit a long line drive down the left field line that carried over the fence for a three-run home run. The Expos won 7-3.
“I was trying to push the pull just like Carlton Fisk (in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series),” Paredes told the Montreal Gazette about his home run after the game. “I’m pretty excited right now. I just hope I can keep it going.”
Paredes had three more multi-hit games with the Expos that season, but ultimately he and Candaele lost the second base job to Tom Foley. In all, Paredes competed in 35 games for the Expos that season and batted .187 with five stolen bases.
After missing the entire 1989 season, Paredes was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the Rule 5 draft and went 1-for-8 in six games before he was returned to the Expos on May 1, 1990. He’d get in just three games for the Expos that season and go 2-for-6 (.333 batting average).
Following that campaign, Paredes was released by the Expos and the Tigers picked him up again. He played the bulk of 1991 with the Tigers’ triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, but on September 11, in his first start after he was called up by the big club, he started at second base and went 4-for-4 with three runs. Two of his hits were bunt singles.
“I know I can run good and I have a good glove,” Paredes told The Detroit Free Press after the game. “I’m just trying to do the things for the Tigers that I did in the minors.”
The Venezuelan infielder ended up going 6-for-18 (.333 batting average) in 16 games for the Tigers that September.
Paredes returned to triple-A Toledo in 1992, but during the season he was sold to the Yakult Swallows of the Japan Central League where he batted .242 in 52 games.
He was back as the starting second baseman for Toledo in 1993 and he completed his professional playing career with Veracruz of the Mexican League in 1995.