Though Tony Gwynn Jr. likely won't start tonight against southpaw Clayton Richard, the story of the day appears to be Gwynn the Younger's return to San Diego. Gwynn, the son of the best and most famous Padre ever, has always been popular in San Diego, even when he helped the Padres miss the playoffs with a game-tying triple off Trevor Hoffman in the next-to-last game of the season as a Brewer back in 2007. Tonight, he makes his return to Petco Park.
Gwynn enjoyed his finest season in San Diego in 2009, combining a .350 OBP in a pitcher's paradise with all-world defense in the outfield. However, Gwynn slumped to .204/.304/.287 last year, which earned him his release in December. "It bothered me a lot," Gwynn told Owen Roberts on MLB.com. "But at the end of the day, you look at the circumstances. I didn't do my part. I didn't play well. That left the door open for those things to happen."
He is 2-for-10 with a double so far, but if Gwynn can keep making plays like the one Tuesday night in Colorado, he's bound to get more playing time. So far Gwynn, who Don Mattingly called "a centerfielder playing left," has started twice in left, the same number of starts as Marcus Thames and Xavier Paul. At the very least, signing Junior has made Tony Gwynn Sr. a Dodger fan again, per Dan Hayes of the North County Times:
"Blood is thicker than anything else," Gwynn said. "I'm going to be pulling for him. I've got no qualms about that. And having to play the Padres 18 times, there are going to be some times where I'm sitting in the booth, I don't know what I'm going to do.
"But, hey, I've got to pull for my son."
In 120 career games at Petco Park, Gwynn has a .340 on-base percentage, compared to a .310 OBP in 251 games everywhere else.
The best news of all, however, is that Gwynn the Elder appears to be winning his battle with parotid cancer, per both Hayes, and Bob Keisser of the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
Game Time: 7:05 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket