The Dodgers on Monday reassigned outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to minor league camp, a move that was expected given his relative lack of playing time and the relatively full depth chart ahead of him. That was one of three roster moves made by the Dodgers on Monday, as catcher Ramon Castro was released and catcher Wilkin Castillo was reassigned to minor league camp.
Gwynn played in 11 Cactus League games, and hit .211 (4-for-19) with four walks. He has also been battling a groin injury that has limited his time. Gwynn last week said he thought he was making progress at the plate, and had been taking extra batting practice with hitting coach Mark McGwire.
"I'm getting there. I'm not where I want to be," Gwynn said. "I'd like to have more at-bats, but with the guys we've got it's going to be tough to come by. I try to do the best with what I'm given."
On Thursday manager Don Mattingly hinted that Gwynn might not be long for the major league roster.
"For Tony it's hard to get at-bats right now for me. He's really running out of at-bats. A few guys are," Mattingly said. "Once you get past these split squad games, you have to get the regular guys going on track.
Gwynn found a home with the Dodgers as a fourth outfielder in 2011, hitting .256/.303/.353 and played in 136 games, many as a late inning defensive replacement. But in 2012, Gwynn's production at the plate plummeted with more regular playing time as he filled in for an injured Matt Kemp in center field and hit just .232/.276/.293.
With the acquisition of Shane Victorino at last year's trade deadline and the subsequent acquisition of Carl Crawford, the Dodgers have three starting outfielders who don't figure to rest much, so Gwynn's value as a late-inning defensive replacement isn't needed. Gwynn was designated for assignment after the Victorino acquisition last year and played the rest of the season in the minors.
Gwynn had the right to decline an assignment to the minor leagues, but if he does so he would also forfeit his $1.15 million salary for 2013. Last Tuesday Gwynn said he would likely go to Triple-A Albuquerque if presented that choice.
"My options are not very many if I don't (make the team). I'm getting paid," Gwynn said. "If I get sent down, as unhappy as that would make me, it's something I'd have to do."
Mattingly said Castro was released to give him a chance to sign on elsewhere. Sending Castillo to minor league camp leaves the Dodgers with four catchers in major league camp. Castillo, who turns 27 in June, appeared in 12 games and hit .333 (6-for-18). Castillo easily earned the reputation as fastest catcher in camp, and even appeared in two games at third base, on Friday in Peoria against the Rangers, and in yesterday's split-squad game with the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick.
With the moves, the Dodgers have 43 players remaining in camp, including six non-roster invitees.