05/24/2007 3:32 PM ET
Q&A with the Brewers' Tony Gwynn Jr.
By Jeff Moeller / MLBPLAYERS.com
Tony Gwynn Jr.'s voice isn't the only thing about him that reminds you of his Hall of Fame dad. The 24-year-old reserve outfielder seems to be contributing to the first-place Brewers with his left-handed bat whenever he gets an opportunity. Gwynn, who's batting .356 through his first 34 games this season, recently answered some questions from MLBPLAYERS.com.
Tony Gwynn Jr.'s favorite basketball team is the Los Angeles Lakers. (Scott Paulus/Brewers)
MLBPLAYERS.com: This current road trip takes you to San Diego for the first time in your big-league career. How much are you looking forward to that?
Gwynn: It's most definitely something that I'm very much looking forward to. I have so much family and so many friends there. It's going to be a real nice homecoming.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You've already begun to experience some success at this level. What's been the key?
Gwynn: I'm swinging pretty good and I feel like I'm getting into a groove at the plate. I'm seeing the ball well and my mechanics are sound. When those two things are going, you will put together some good ABs.
MLBPLAYERS.com: How have you handled staying sharp in a reserve role?
Gwynn: You can look at it one of two ways. On the positive, I know that when I get my opportunity, I will try and make something of it to help the team. You can also look at it on the negative side, which I choose not to do. I try to always be positive and I think that is a big reason for the success I've had so far. My job is to do what I'm asked to do, and that is to play good defense, maybe steal a bag or two, or pinch-hit. I'm trying to make each of my at-bats productive in order to help the team.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You made your debut last year. Even though you've been around professional baseball your whole life, what did you gain from it?
Gwynn: Last year was such a valuable experience for me. You never really know the feeling of being a Major League Baseball player until you walk in and see your jersey hanging up and it has your name and your number. When you step between the lines, it's pretty much everything you dream of as a young child. I will never forget my first game and it is something I will cherish my whole life. Not only that, but last year was a stepping-stone for me and it helped prepare me for this year.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You wear No. 22. Why did you choose that number?
Gwynn: Because Bill Hall was No. 2. They gave me No. 22 and turned out to be the next best thing. I like the way it looks and I'm happy to have it.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Last year, in addition to your time with the Brewers, you hit .300 with four home runs and 42 RBIs at Triple-A Nashville. How do you describe yourself as a player to somebody who has not yet seen you play?
Gwynn: I'm a guy who puts the bat on the ball and a guy who causes havoc on the base paths when I do get on. I have a pretty good eye, I don't swing at a lot of bad pitches, I'm always going to put the ball in play, I will play good defense and I will get on base in multiple ways. I can also bunt, take my walks, hit some line drives -- including some doubles and triples -- but mainly I'm a guy who will cause havoc on the base paths.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You started in right field the other night. Where have you primarily played defensively?
Gwynn: I played almost exclusively in center field up until this year. I enjoy playing defense and I feel that is my relaxation point as it relates to this game. When I'm on the defensive end, and regardless of how I'm doing at the plate, I always know I can make a difference with my glove. I feel confident out there, but the good thing about this year is that I'm feeling the same about my offense right now as well.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You also hit in the second spot the other night. Do you see yourself as a top-of-the-order type of guy?
Gwynn: Definitely. I always hit one or two coming up the Minor League ladder. I'm real comfortable in those spots, but I have also hit seventh or eighth this year and I was comfortable there as well. I'm ideal for those four spots.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Off the field, you are a big basketball fan. As the NBA gets close to naming a new champion, is this a fun time for you?
Gwynn: It would be if my Lakers were still in it. It's not as fun, but anytime you get to watch a playoff basketball game on TV -- and like you said, I'm a huge basketball fan -- it's still enjoyable. But I would much prefer watching Kobe and the Lakers right now, though.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You grew up in San Diego. What is it about the Lakers that drew you to them?
Gwynn: I started with the "Showtime" era and my dad and my mom were both big Lakers fans. That's how I became a Lakers fan. It progressed to the Kobe generation now and I'm hoping and praying for some big offseason moves like bringing "KG," Kevin Garnett, to town. I would love to see him in a Lakers uniform.
MLBPLAYERS.com: The Clippers of the NBA drafted your dad and you were a standout prep basketball player. Are you better at basketball than your dad?
Gwynn: I think I was better than him and better than my uncle on the hoops court. I have a better jumper than he has, but he could always hang with me because he was quick. We would go head-to-head and I remember the first time I beat him while I was growing up. He has always told me, though, that I was a better basketball player than he was or his brother.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.