As the Los Angeles Dodgers squared off against the Philadelphia Phillies this week, outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dodgers third base coach Lorenzo Bundy were reunited. Although in opposing uniforms this time around, the two shared a relationship in Triple-A Albuquerque that Gwynn Jr. believes was integral to his resurgence in the major leagues.
When the former Dodger outfielder spent time in the Dodgers’ farm system in 2012 and 2013 as his two-year contract with the team was closing out, he was in a tough place in his career. Bundy, who was the Isotopes manager at the time, gave Gwynn Jr. the opportunities to flourish as a baseball player during this rough patch.
According to J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News, Gywnn Jr. has nothing but appreciation for his former manager as the two re-connected when their two teams faced off:
“I told him, ‘if I didn’t tell you before the end of last year how much I appreciated you last year, you are a huge reason why I am on this field right now’,” Gwynn said.
Bundy gave the outfielder the chance to hit in the middle of the batting order, but more importantly, to take on a leadership role as the manager recognized Gwynn Jr.’s rich Major League experience. The former manager’s support and faith in Gwynn Jr. was extremely motivating and heavily contributed to his current success.
Bundy also kept Gwynn sane during a time when the Dodgers outfield was starting to crowd and became increasingly competitive, via Hoornstra:
“He kept my mind right last year when it could’ve got out of hand,” Gwynn said. “I was hitting like a .330 clip that year into June. I wasn’t getting any love as far as getting called back up. He kept me in a good place.”
Following the 2013 season in Albuquerque, the 31-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Phillies this past off-season. After working hard to make it onto the Phillies Opening Day roster, Gwynn Jr. has solidified his spot with the team and is clearly appreciative for his relationship with Bundy.
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