Brewers Trade Tony Gwynn, Jr.
SAN DIEGO (AP) -- When Tony Gwynn Jr. got the call that he was coming home to San Diego, it came from Mr. Padre himself.
Tony Gwynn, who spent his entire 20-year Hall of Fame career in San Diego, broke the news to his son that the Padres were acquiring him in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.
"Dad's thrilled," the senior Gwynn told The Associated Press by phone from Fort Worth, Texas, where he's coaching the San Diego State Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference baseball tournament. "This is like a bolt out of the sky. You just didn't expect that. I'm thrilled, just happy he's going to get an opportunity and I think he feels the same way."
Gwynn Jr., an outfielder, was obtained for outfielder Jody Gerut. The younger Gwynn was en route from Portland, Ore., where his Triple-A Nashville team was playing a series against the Padres' affiliate, the Beavers. He arrived at Petco Park about 10 minutes before Thursday night's game against the San Francisco Giants.
He made his debut in the ninth inning of the Padres' 3-2 victory, walking as a pinch hitter. Gwynn Jr. scored the winning run on Scott Hairston's bases-loaded single off Brian Wilson.
Gwynn Jr. wore No. 18. His father's No. 19 is retired.
"I'm glad to be back," said Gwynn Jr., who grew up running around the Padres' clubhouse. "It still hasn't really kicked in yet. But my nerves were actually pretty good being up at the plate in the ninth inning."
Tony Gwynn said he had just returned from taking his Aztecs out for some early batting practice when he got a call from his wife, Alicia, that the trade was coming down. He called his brother, Chris, and then Tony Jr.
"I called Anthony because we weren't sure he knew," said Gwynn, who still calls his son by his given name. "I called him and broke the news to him and he was thrilled."
Tony Jr. was eating breakfast in Portland when his dad called. The conversation went something like this:
Dad: "What's going on?
Dad: "You ain't heard otherwise?"
Son: "Heard about what?"
"Then I told him," Gwynn said. "He was hilarious."
Gwynn said his son called back a few minutes later to say his manager had confirmed the deal.
The Gwynn family got early word "because we have connections," Tony said with a laugh. "I am a Padre still."
Tony Jr., a Brewers draft pick in 2003, has played parts of three seasons in the majors. Last year, he hit .190 in 29 games with the Brewers and spent most of the season at Nashville, where he batted .276 and had 20 stolen bases in 93 games.
The 26-year-old, who bats left-handed like his dad, has appeared in 38 games with Nashville this season, hitting .308 with one home run and nine RBIs. He has a .395 on-base percentage and has stolen 15 bases in 16 attempts.
He's played 33 games in center field, three in left and two in right, the position his father played.
Gerut hit .221 with four home runs and 14 RBIs with San Diego this year.
The elder Gwynn doesn't think his son will feel pressure playing for the Padres. Tony Gwynn was the face of the franchise for years, winning eight NL batting titles and helping the Padres reach two World Series. He finished his career with 3,141 hits and a .338 average.
There's a bronze statue of Gwynn on the grassy knoll beyond the outfield fence and his No. 19 is among the retired numbers displayed on the batter's eye in center field. Plus, when Tony Jr. shows up for work, he'll turn onto Tony Gwynn Drive and then into the players' parking garage.
"He's not worried about it. I'm not worried about it. He just got an opportunity to play," said Gwynn, who occasionally does commentary for Padres' TV broadcasts.
"The only way to find out if he can play is to get an opportunity," Gwynn said. "This is an opportunity. He's had a good year so far. It would have been so easy to go to Triple-A and be upset and be mad, but he didn't do that. He went down there and worked."
Gwynn coached his son for one season at San Diego State.
On the second-to-last day of the 2007 season, Gwynn Jr. helped crush the Padres' playoff hopes. With the Padres one strike away from clinching a postseason berth, he hit a tying, two-out triple off Trevor Hoffman in the ninth inning and the Brewers beat the Padres 4-3 in 11 innings. San Diego lost the next day to set up a wild-card tiebreaker at Colorado, which it lost in 13 innings.
Hoffman, baseball's all-time saves leader who's now with the Brewers, has known Gwynn Jr. since he was 10.
"He was always a very polite kid, the kind of young man his parents should be very proud of," Hoffman said before the Brewers' game at Houston. "He did things the right way. He was very confident, listened to his dad. He was really enthusiastic, too, around the yard. He definitely enjoyed being able to do that with his father.
"But he wasn't afraid to be his own person. I think Tony did a great job of giving him a long leash to go out and develop on his own and do the things that he wanted to do."
Hoffman thinks the younger Gwynn will be fine.
"You think of a place and someone of that magnitude to follow, you want to go to a place where they will probably understand that," Hoffman said.
Tony Gwynn had to quickly shift his focus. His alma mater, SDSU, hasn't been to the postseason since 1991, is trying to win the MWC tournament and an automatic berth in the NCAA regionals. The Aztecs were to play Utah on Thursday night, with the winner advancing to the championship.
"It was a good day so far," Gwynn said. "I just want to continue it tonight, hopefully. The sooner I get home to see him play, the better."
AP Sports Writer Chris Duncan in Houston contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)