Leaving The Door Ajar

Off Brewers' 40-man, but at least Tony Gwynn Jr. will play




MILWAUKEE—If Tony Gwynn Jr. had his druthers, he'd be playing in another organization—and in the major leagues.

That opportunity appeared on the horizon at the end of spring training when the Brewers outrighted the 26-year-old center fielder to the minors. Gwynn lost his battle with Chris Duffy for the final reserve outfield spot and was out of options, so he had to go through waivers to be sent to the minors.

"Definitely, I was hoping I'd be claimed," he said after learning he had cleared waivers. "It's not as easy (to get back to the majors) when you're not on the (40-man) roster."

Gwynn heard the talk that he might be claimed by the Padres, the hometown team for which his Hall of Fame father played. But Gwynn was familiar with that organization's personnel and didn't see that happening.

"As much as everybody talked about it, when you look at their roster, honestly I didn't expect it," he said. "I didn't see it happening."

Gwynn was forced to play a fruitless game of catch-up after missing the early weeks of camp with a lingering shoulder injury. In 15 games of action, he batted .179/.273/.179 in 28 at-bats.

Gwynn said it was "real hard" not to stay on a team that includes many friends, including Rickie Weeks, Prince Fielder and Mike Cameron. But he said he knew he had to go down to Triple-A Nashville to prove he could get the job done offensively and shed the tag of a defensive player.

"I'm looking forward to playing every day and re-proving myself," said Gwynn, a second-round pick from San Diego State in 2003. "I know I've got to do something on the offensive side."

While Gwynn might have benefited from a fresh start, the Brewers were glad he cleared waivers and remained in the organization. General manager Doug Melvin promised Gwynn he would play every day and get the opportunity to prove he should be in the major leagues.

"In my mind, it's a no-lose situation," Melvin sad. "He'll go down to Triple-A and play. We still like Tony."

MICROBREWS

• The Brewers released 23-year-old outfielder Charlie Fermaint, a 2003 fourth-rounder from Puerto Rico, who once was considered one of the system's top prospects but who had started 0-for-10 with Double-A Huntsville.

• The Brewers signed third baseman Kevin Melillo to a minor league deal and assigned him to Huntsville. He batted .258/.341/.446 in Triple-A last season, playing in the Athletics and Blue Jays systems.