Gwynn makes first start since returning

Gwynn makes first start since returning

LOS ANGELES -- Padres outfielder Tony Gwynn was wearing a larger-than-usual grin Thursday, the result of his name being penciled into the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 18.

"It has been a while," Gwynn said, before racing off to hit in the cage before the game.

It was on Aug. 18 when Gwynn fractured the hamate bone in his right hand fouling a pitch off in a game at Wrigley Field against the Cubs. He had surgery two days later in San Diego and was told he could be out between six and eight weeks.

It turns out Gwynn was a quick healer and returned 3 1/2 weeks later. He's appeared in seven games since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 13 and has had two hitless at-bats since then.

On Thursday, he got the start in center fielder, where, before the injury, he was having one of the best defensive seasons of any outfielder in the National League.

"He's excited," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Tony feels good physically, there are no restrictions mentally or physically. He's gotten enough action to where he feels ready for a start."

The move was also made to get another left-handed bat in the lineup against Dodgers right-handed pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.