Returning as visitor 'strange' for Hoffman
Closer back in San Diego for first time with Brewers
SAN DIEGO -- Former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman knew his homecoming to San Diego wasn't the most prominent news story Friday at PETCO Park.
The Padres dealt ace pitcher Jake Peavy to the White Sox just minutes before Hoffman arrived at the park, shifting the focus off Hoffman's return and onto the surprising move before the Trade Deadline.
Hoffman, now with the Brewers for the start of a three-game series at PETCO Park, took the lack of attention in stride. He even joked about a radio station putting him on hold to instead interview Peavy.
Hoffman also adjusted his expectations for any pregame recognition. The fan favorite was with the Padres from 1993 to 2008 until the Padres withdrew their offer to extend Hoffman for the 2009 season.
"I'm sure it will be quick and respectful," Hoffman said about any pregame acknowledgment. "There's a lot of stuff going on today. Me coming home is probably the last thing. I understand it's going to be a nice gesture. I look forward to having that moment with the fans.
"But they lost their ace today. The fans lost another iconic player in their history. It just goes to show you that the game continues to move, regardless of what happens around you."
Hoffman, who earned 552 of his all-time 577 saves with the Padres, acknowledged that "it's going to be weird" to not be in his former home bullpen.
"It was definitely strange going into the visiting side, no doubt about that," he said.
Hoffman also discussed a phone call with Padres general manager Kevin Towers, which occurred earlier in the week. Towers reportedly sent Hoffman a letter earlier this year striving to bridge any troubled waters that developed after his sudden departure.
"I called him. I think it was important," Hoffman said. "He offered that olive branch. The ball was in my court, and I needed to make that call, just get it out there and kind of move on with it."
The feelings of goodwill appeared to be mutual.
"When Trevor enters the Hall of Fame, I can't wait to be there," Towers said Friday.
Current Padres closer Heath Bell said he fully supports any measures that the Padres might take during Friday's game to show their respect for Hoffman's legacy. Hoffman, who wears No. 51, traditionally entered save situations with the AC/DC song "Hells Bells".
"I actually think if he comes in tonight, hopefully he doesn't, but if he comes in tonight, they should play Hells Bells, because it's our 51st home game and he's No. 51," Bell said. "That would be cool ... kind of awkward, but cool. If you ask me, I think that should happen."
Hoffman was seen on the field Friday talking with Hall of Famer and former teammate Tony Gwynn. The image was a striking reminder of their legacy and influence on the organization.
"I think the fans are going to come out and embrace him," Bell said. "He is San Diego. If you're going to say San Diego Padres, you're going to say Trevor Hoffman and Tony Gwynn."
Amy Brittain is an associate reporter with MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.