Gwynn hoping to return ahead of schedule

Gwynn hoping to return ahead of schedule

PHOENIX -- Tony Gwynn is a speedster, so it only makes sense that he is already ahead of schedule.

Gwynn, placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 21 with a fracture in his right hand, said as much before the Padres' series opener in Arizona on Monday.

The stitches in his hand (which he was able to flex without pain) will be removed on Wednesday, at which point Gwynn said he hopes to begin strengthening exercises. He has optimistically pinpointed an Oct. 1 return date, which falls in line with the estimated six-week recovery time from surgery.

Manager Bud Black, warning that as many as eight to 10 weeks could be required, offered a more cautious prognostication, saying, "That's probably better answered in the middle of September."

Gwynn first injured his hand -- specifically, breaking the hamate bone -- while swinging in an Aug. 18 game against the Cubs. He was batting .212 with 17 stolen bases and also strengthened San Diego's outfield defense. In the interim, he's had to sit and watch as his club has lost four straight, its longest skid of an impressive season.

"It's unlike us; I fully expect us to bounce back," Gwynn said. "We just try to keep [the losses] short-lived and try to move on."