“He was 19 to the end”

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Two Tony Gwynn remembrances worth reading this morning, both by writers with personal connections to Gwynn. One is from Tom Friend, the former Padres beat writer. The other from Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.

Lots of players are said by writers to be nice guys or classy, but Kepner notes an instance when Gwynn literally helped change Kepner’s life by virtue of his friendliness and generosity. Kepner was something of a boy wonder reporter when he was a teenager, publishing his own magazine and getting press passes. Once, when covering a Padres game, this happened:

One time we spoke, I was wearing a Vanderbilt golf shirt. Gwynn noticed the logo and asked if I went there. When I said yes, he lit up. The Padres beat writer Buster Olney, of The San Diego Union-Tribune, also went there, Gwynn said excitedly. “You’ve got to meet him!” he said . . . When our interview ended, he went back to the clubhouse, found Olney and brought him to the dugout to meet me. A few years later Olney was writing for The New York Times, and he recommended me for a job. Gwynn had set me on my career path.

Friend gives us a tear-jerking moment from Gwynn’s final months:

In late April, I surprised him at the hospital. He was in a wheelchair. His hair was fully gray. He couldn’t open his right eye. He could only halfway open his mouth. He was on oxygen. The purest hitter of our generation was dying . . . That day in the hospital, I would have done anything to see a young Tony Gwynn again. And then I looked down at his feet. He was wearing his old baseball shower shoes. On them was his scribbled number: 19. He was 19 to the end.

Just, wow. Both are excellent reads. Do check them out.

Report: Dodgers to sign Joe Kelly to three-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Dodgers are close to signing reliever Joe Kelly. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the deal is for three years and around $25 million.

Kelly, 30, posted a 4.39 ERA with a 68/32 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings out of the Red Sox bullpen during the regular season in 2018. He turned it up a notch in the postseason, limiting the opposition to two runs (one earned) in 11 1/3 innings with a 13/0 K/BB ratio.

With the Red Sox, Kelly mostly pitched seventh and eighth innings ahead of closer Craig Kimbrel. He will likely do the same ahead of closer Kenley Jansen, sharing the workload with Pedro Báez.