Gwynn settles for Fenway BP
Padres outfielder will sit out All-Star Game with calf injury
Posted: Monday July 12, 1999 09:31 PM
BOSTON (AP) -- Tony Gwynn wasn't about to let a calf injury keep him from taking his hacks at Fenway Park's famous Green Monster.
Despite being unable to play in this year's All-Star game, Gwynn took the trip to Boston just for the opportunity to take batting practice Monday.
"The first thing I did was look out at the wall," Gwynn said. "Man it is close."
Gwynn, a self-described baseball historian, bought a book on Fenway's history to read before heading out to the park for the first time. He read about the greats who played their careers at Fenway and the classic moments that took place here.
"After 18 years, this is the last park I really wanted to see," said Gwynn, who has spent his entire career in the NL with the San Diego Padres. "I got to see Tiger Stadium and Yankee Stadium in the World Series. This might be my only chance to see Fenway."
He was most interested in the 37-foot wall that goes from the 310-foot sign down the left-field line to the 379-foot marker in the power alley in left-center. Even though he is usually a right fielder, Gwynn was eager to field some balls off the monster.
"I can't wait to see how the ball bounces off it," he said. "It's got the ladder, the scoreboard, a lot of different features. It will be fun to see."
But what fans and Gwynn really want to see is how his classic, left-handed batting stroke handles Fenway.
While most people think of right-handed sluggers hitting towering home runs over baseball's most famous boundary, there is a long history of lefties peppering the wall with opposite field line drives.
The most prominent was perhaps Wade Boggs, who is tied with Gwynn with 2,982 career hits -- 18 shy of 3,000.
"Bruce Hurst used to tell me what a great park this would be for a left-hander like me," Gwynn said. "I've seen what Boggs did here. Now I want to get a feel for myself what it's like to hit here."
After an unsuccessful first turn in the batting cage, Gwynn lined about five balls off the inviting target in left field.
"Wow, that was fun," he said before heading out to field some balls in left field.
Unfortunately, that's all the fans will see of Gwynn. San Diego's Bruce Bochy, who will manage the NL All-Stars, didn't want to take a chance with Gwynn's health in a game that didn't count.
"We'd like to have Tony healthy for the rest of the year," Bochy said. "I wish he could play. The good news is we're going to get him back as soon as the break is over."
Gwynn was hurt the first time on May 21 breaking out of the batter's box and missed 19 games. He came back on June 12 and played seven games, then sat out three. His calf bothered him as he pursued a fly ball in warmups and he went back on the disabled list June 20.
"I'm anxious to get back playing," Gwynn said. "People think it's because I want to get to 3,000. But I know I will get 18 hits. I just want to play."
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