PHOENIX -- The team, the colors, the uniform and the environment are all different this spring for Trevor Hoffman, Major League Baseball's all-time leader with 554 saves. Only his number remains the same.

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"There wasn't anybody on the roster with it," Hoffman said earlier this week in an exclusive interview with MLB.com. "So they gave me No. 51. It's nice to have some things the same, that's for sure."

Hoffman is irrevocably a member of the Brewers now after his split from the Padres as a free agent this offseason, and he seems to have hardly begun the adjustment. The contract breakdown in November has been well-documented.

"I don't think I've completely digested everything," Hoffman said. "When you spend 16 years in a place and have it end badly the way it did, you can't just pretend that you're going to move on. The game moves on without you, so you have to be prepared to go when it moves. I'm a Brewer now. I feel for the fans in San Diego, but I was shown the door."

Hoffman is 46 saves away from the 600 plateau, and no matter what he does this season with Milwaukee, when and if he's elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, he'll go in wearing the cap of the San Diego Padres. At this juncture, all except two of his 554 saves came with the Friars.

So eventually there has to be a reconciliation between the player and that ballclub, although Hoffman said: "It's not for me to broach."

An olive branch was extended this week by Kevin Towers, the club's longtime general manager, who would still like to see Hoffman somehow finish his career with the Padres.

"I'm still holding out hope that he throws his last game for us in San Diego," Towers said. "Whether that means he signs a contract and throws one last save and retires, for me that would be the perfect way for him to close it out. He throws his last save for the Padres and tips his cap. That's my hope."

Meanwhile, the change of scenery this spring after nearly 16 San Diego seasons is having a profound effect on clubhouses located at both ends of the valley.

At the Brewers' Maryvale complex, just west of downtown Phoenix, new manager Ken Macha and general manager Doug Melvin have been marveling at the 41-year-old Hoffman's work ethic. He comes early and leaves late, marching to the beat of his own workout program. It may be all new to the Brewers, but it's nothing new for Hoffman, who's goatee is graying now as are the streaks mingled among the brown strands beneath his new Brewers cap.

"Some guys say they want their own program and then you see them sitting there watching ESPN and eating nachos," Melvin said. "But I was here at 7 a.m. the other morning and Hoffman was already in the weight room."

Miles north, in Peoria, Ariz., where the Padres train, Hoffman's workout regimen and the antics of his three look-alike mini-Hoffy boys -- Brody, Quinn and Wyatt -- had long been part of the team's fabric. This week, in Maryvale, Hoffman was found after practice in the batting cage amidst the controlled chaos as the youngsters hit off a pitching machine.


"The question in my mind is what was it going to be like to make a total change? So far it's been difficult, but it hasn't been bad. It's been fortunate to come to an organization like this when I didn't have a chance to remain in a place where I was totally comfortable."
-- Trevor Hoffman

In Peoria, Chris Young has Hoffman's old locker and Heath Bell has his old job as Padres closer.

"It's like losing a member of the family," said the retired Greg Maddux, a certain Hall of Famer in his own right, who's back in Padres camp this week as a part-time Spring Training instructor.

"I'm going to miss Trevor," said Bell, who inherits Hoffman's role with only two saves on his resume in 236 Major League appearances, all in relief.

"When the season starts and we get to PETCO Park that's when I'm going to miss him even more. I'm going to look down the hall and he won't be in his locker. That's the sad part."

Hoffman's career in San Diego ended with the $4 million take-it-or-leave-it offer that the Padres ultimately pulled off the table. Hoffman broke off talks at that point and when the Dodgers and Brewers vied for Hoffman's services in January, the Padres never moved forward to make another offer.

Accusations went back and forth during that time period, and Hoffman still blames the entire organization for not stepping forward to bring him back. But the bottom line is that it's now all water under baseball's contractual bridge. Hoffman, at the least, wanted a farewell news conference with both sides thanking each other for the good times. It's yet to happen, but someday it undoubtedly will.

"I'm sure [the departure] could have been handled differently, but it wasn't and that's hindsight," Towers said. "I certainly don't harbor any animosity toward Trevor. I realize I certainly wouldn't have had this position without his contributions. From a personal standpoint, I'll always consider him to be a friend. I hope he feels the same."

Towers has been the team's GM since 1996, and aside from 2003, when Hoffman had to have surgery on his right shoulder during Spring Training and missed most of that season, this is the first year during his tenure Towers is looking at a bullpen sans Hoffman.

Bell was the eighth-inning setup man the past two seasons. Right now, there's no replacement for him in that role.

Hoffman deserved better, said Jake Peavy, the former National League Cy Young Award winner and the subject all offseason of trade rumors.

"He's been a cornerstone around here," Peavy said. "I'm not sure how you let a guy like him walk away, considering what Trevor brings to a team not only on the field, but off the field. He's certainly missed around here and I'm sure he knows it."

Hoffman has lived his life without one kidney, the result of a childhood accident. As such, he has spent plenty of time off the field working and talking with children who have a spectrum of kidney ailments.

He brings to the Brewers his on-field work ethic, his leadership traits in the clubhouse, his stature as a strong family man, friend and teammate.

"It's great to have him," said Brewers veteran catcher Jason Kendall, looking across the Maryvale clubhouse toward Hoffman's new corner locker. "He'll have a major impact on everyone in here. And in my mind he's still got something left."

Hoffman obviously wants to prove that he still has the knack for saving games, 30 last season in 34 opportunities for a Padres team that lost 99 games and finished last in the NL West. It was their worst finish since a 101-loss 1993 season -- Hoffman's first in San Diego. The club's finances notwithstanding, the bad year was one of the reasons Hoffman became expendable.

In Milwaukee, the Brewers paid Eric Gagne $10 million to close last season and when he washed out, turned to Salomon Torres, who saved 28 games for the Wild Card winners, but retired at the end of the season.

The Brewers waited until the more high-priced free-agent closers like Francisco Rodriguez, Kerry Wood and Brian Fuentes were taken off the market before seriously pursuing Hoffman. They signed him for one year with a base of $6 million and enough performance incentives to take him to $7.5 million, his salary last season. And this week, unbeknown to Hoffman, they brought Gagne back on a Minor League deal.

"The question in my mind is what was it going to be like to make a total change?" Hoffman said. "So far it's been difficult, but it hasn't been bad. It's been fortunate to come to an organization like this when I didn't have a chance to remain in a place where I was totally comfortable. To have a door shut in San Diego on you and then to have a door open up like Milwaukee, I was pretty lucky."

Now Hoffman knows he has to make the most of the opportunity. He moves to the NL Central with its smaller ballparks than the NL West throughout the division, the move coming at a time when his fastball and trademark changeup hurtle toward the plate at about the same speed.

When told that it worries people when "83 mph" flashes up on the scoreboard after he throws a fastball, Hoffman quipped, "It worries me, too."

But he said he hasn't added any new wrinkles to his arsenal.

"Just throw the first strike," Hoffman said.

His new Milwaukee bosses will be rooting for him. So will his old friends in San Diego. "Hells Bells," the AC/DC rock anthem, will continue to be his calling card as he enters a game at Miller Park. At PETCO, where he tied and broke Lee Smith's all-time record of 478 saves and later recorded his 500th, the bells will no longer toll -- at least for now.

"Our hope is that he has great success in Milwaukee and that Heath has great success for us," Towers said. "And then he'll come home for that one last save. None of this is irreconcilable. Not for me, anyway. He did too many good things in a Padres uniform."