Gwynn Jr. returns to San Diego as a big leaguer Print
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Friday, 25 May 2007 16:57
MLB Headline News

 SAN DIEGO (AP) -Tony Gwynn Jr. turned onto Tony Gwynn Drive on his way to work Friday.
``It's always weird to turn on the street and see your dad's name just chilling on the street sign right there,'' Gwynn said about three hours before his Milwaukee Brewers opened a three-game series against his dad's old team, the San Diego Padres.
``I don't think very many people can say that their dad has a street named after them. It's a little awkward. But after you turn on the street, it's just a street, though.''
Tony Gwynn Drive fronts Petco Park. Gwynn Jr. wasn't in the starting lineup Friday night against Greg Maddux, but he said it was ``a little nerve-racking'' nonetheless to return to San Diego for the first time as a big leaguer.
``It's always special when you can come back to your hometown for the first time,'' said the 24-year-old Gwynn, who made his big league debut July 15 at Arizona and got his first hit four days later, a pinch-hit double at San Francisco that came exactly 24 years after his father's first hit, also a double.
Gwynn also was looking forward to catching up with his father, who was due at the ballpark after returning from Las Vegas, where his San Diego State Aztecs were eliminated from the Mountain West Conference baseball tournament on Thursday night.
``It's one of those Catch-22 things,'' said Gwynn, who played one season for his dad at SDSU. ``If they win, I don't get to see him. If they lose, I get to see him, but then his team's not playing anymore. In one sense I'm disappointed the Aztecs lost and their season's done, but on the other hand, I'm excited because it's the first time I get to see him since I left for spring training. It'll be nice.''
Gwynn saw hundreds of Padres games at Qualcomm Stadium, but said he'd only been inside Petco Park once before, for a news conference on Jan. 9 after his father was elected to the Hall of Fame.
``He was really anxious to try to get into this stadium before he retired,'' Gwynn said. ``It didn't work out that way, so maybe I can give him some little tidbits on what it's like to play on the field.''
Tony Gwynn retired after the 2001 season, and the Padres moved into their downtown ballpark in 2004.
There are a few other reminders of the senior Gwynn's career at Petco Park - his retired No. 19 on the batter's eye beyond center field and a ``Countdown to Cooperstown'' banner on a balcony on the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner.
Gwynn Jr. has started six games in right field and four in center. He's played in 34 games, hitting .356 with eight RBIs.
He said it's probably just as well he didn't follow his famous father in San Diego.
``I think the way things worked out, it's probably a better situation I'm in now,'' he said. ``I can only imagine if I'd have gotten up to this level as a Padre, what the pressures would have been like, what the expectations would have been like. Sometimes I find myself thinking about it, 'What if I would have been a Padre, would it have changed my progression as a baseball player?' For the most part, I'm extremely happy where I'm at right now.''
 

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