Spring Training, Day 4
- Jerry Sands homered for the Dodgers in the seventh inning.
- Chad Billingsley pitched three innings of shutout ball, no walks, three hits, three strikeouts.
- Nine innings, three baserunners on offense, two errors on defense.
- Tony Gwynn Jr. struck out twice and made an error in left field.
- Four consecutive Dodgers relievers — Wilkin De La Rosa, Jon Huber, Roman Colon and Oscar Villarreal — each walked two batters (in a combined four innings).
- Gwynn is featured by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
… Gwynn had a career-high 393 at-bats and scored 59 runs with the Padres (in 2009). He also posted a .350 on-base percentage to go with that .270 average, and it looked as if the Padres had their center fielder for the foreseeable future.But everything changed for Gwynn in 2010.
After a decent start, he had a miserable May in which he batted .145. He spent most of the rest of the summer trying to rebound, but a broken bone in his right hand landed him on an operating table. By the time he was ready to play in mid-September, the Padres were in hot pursuit of a division title, and they couldn’t take any chances on a surgically repaired outfielder who they weren’t sure could help the cause. Also by that time, Gwynn’s famous father had been diagnosed with cancer of the parotid, something that wouldn’t be made public for months but that Gwynn’s teammates were aware of.
“It just so happened that two days after I broke my hand, I found out my dad had cancer,” Gwynn said. “It’s one of those things you think can’t happen to you until it happens. … I was hurting, but it’s not something I’m never going to use as an excuse for my performance. It’s just a part of life, and this is my job.”
Gwynn went hitless in 11 at-bats the rest of the way. The division title never came, and the Padres non-tendered him after the season. His father appears to be doing well in his battle and has returned on a limited basis to his job as the baseball coach at San Diego State University.
The Dodgers signed Gwynn for $650,000, a bargain compared to what the Padres probably would have paid him if they had gone to arbitration. Gwynn’s hand is healthy now, and he worked this winter to regain his batting stroke, sorting out his mechanical issues and his approach with hitting coach Jeff Pentland. …
- Will Carroll’s Team Health Reports are now hosted at SI.com, and you can check out the Dodgers writeup here. Billingsley finally graduates to a green light, but I would ignore the comment about Gordon being a potential replacement for Casey Blake at third base.
- In the wake of Garret Anderson’s retirement, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com shares this important reminder: “You just can’t tell how much someone cares.”
- Here are a couple of stories about Jackie Robinson’s 1945 tryout with the Boston Red Sox, from The Governor’s Sox (via Baseball Think Factory) and Jackie with the Monarchs. Very much worth your time.