For the better part of the six months between the last real game of 2013 and the first real game of this year, fans of the Philadelphia Phillies complained that there would be no new big names in the everyday lineup.
Now, one big name has at least hit his way into the conversion: Tony Gwynn. No, not the Hall-of-Famer who retired several years ago, but the one who has the “Jr.” at the end of his name. This close to the season though, the fans will take anything they can get.
While he’s not quite the player his dad was, he’s intriguing because in some respects, he is the player his dad was not. While Tony Gwynn Sr. was not particularly fast, his son can cause havoc on the basepaths. While dad was not a great outfielder, son can certainly run down the ball in the gap.
Right now, Gwynn is battling for a spot on the roster and, on a team where so many veterans are struggling with the bats, he’s been hitting over .300 for most of the spring (.273 now). His speed and defense, on a team devoid of outfield speed and defense, will probably earn him that spot. He did hit .338 in triple-A in 2012 and .300 in triple-A last season.
If the Phillies fall into the kind of hitting doldrums like they had in 2013, new manager Ryne Sandberg would not be hesitant to shake things up and put a player like Gwynn in the lineup. What Gwynn does with the opportunity would be up to him, but at least he will be a name that the fans can recognize.