Padres' Gwynn tests hand with bunting

Padres' Gwynn tests hand with bunting

SAN DIEGO -- It was a small step Tuesday, although Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn said he was encouraged by the way his right hand responded to a brief bunting session before batting practice.

This was the first time Gwynn -- who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 19 with a fractured right hamate bone -- has used a bat since having surgery to repair the fracture the day after he went on the DL.

Gwynn also played catch prior to the start of Tuesday's game against the Dodgers. It was the fourth time he's done so. It's all part of an aggressive rehabilitation plan to potentially get him back in the lineup before the end of the regular season.

San Diego manager Bud Black said Gwynn could be activated from the disabled list even if he's not 100 percent ready to hit. Gwynn, who was having one of the best defensive seasons of any Major League outfielder before the injury, could be used as a defensive replacement.

"I could foresee that if he's able to throw," Black said. "With the rosters expanded, if we want him as a late-inning defensive move."

Gwynn said there's no timeline as to when he'll be able to take batting practice. He's still two and half weeks removed from surgery and was told at the time of the surgery that he could potentially return in four weeks.

Gwynn suffered the injury taking a swing in a game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 18.