In what can only be called one of the sadder stories to come out of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, the team released Tony Gwynn Jr. on Monday a week after he was designated for assignment.
For a year that started out with so much promise for the 31-year-old it has become a time that I’m sure Gwynn would rather just put behind him.
After making the Phillies’ opening day roster, things seemed to be going well for the outfielder, hitting .163 on the season. Wile not being good enough to play every day, Gwynn could be depended on as a solid backup utility player. The Phillies fans had also seemed to really warm up to him, cheering loudly whenever he came to the plate.
But things took a turn when his father, Tony Gwynn, died this past June after a putting up a fight against cancer. Gwynn Jr. understandably left the team for a time, returning June 25 and receiving a standing ovation from the crowd at Citizens Bank Bark when he entered the game as a pinch-hitter.
Then last week, with the return of a number of players from the DL, Gwynn Jr. was designated for assignment which led to him being released on Monday. Now he can hopefully sign with another team and continue his career in another city.
What makes this situation all the more frustrating is that Gwynn Jr. is an all around likeable guy who works his tail off, much like his father. To see the Phillies have to release him while players such as Jonathan Papelbon and Ryan Howard get to continue to play is maddening and just a bit unfair, especially during a season such as this. You mean there wasn’t any way to let Gwynn at least finish the season with the Phillies? None at all?
This is just another reason Ruben Amaro Jr. makes me so angry.
Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that Gwynn Jr. will always be welcome in Philadelphia and that he will be missed. And when we all look back at the 2014 season in years to come, that standing ovation on a June evening may just be the highlight we all remember the most.