NEW YORK -- Later this month, Trevor Hoffman, his wife and three boys will load up with Brad Ausmus and his family and hit the road in true retirement style: An RV trip winding its way across America, from San Diego to Cape Cod, Mass.
"Grand Canyon, Arches National Park, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, the Dells in Wisconsin, a water park, Cedar Point in Ohio, Niagara Falls, then Cape," Hoffman said. "Ausmus mapped it out. We retired at the same time. We'd been talking about it for a while. I flew over them a lot, but never got down and dirty with them. He's a smart guy and I said, 'Go ahead and do it, bud. Wherever you've got us going, we're going.'"
That's life in the first year beyond the mound for Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader, and so was representing the Padres at the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. He visited the MLB Fan Cave on Monday along with Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry and former Dodgers great Maury Wills, amid a whirlwind day that would conclude with him sitting at San Diego's table, one of 30 set up on the floor at MLB Network's Studio 42 for the Draft.
Hoffman says his "day starts" at 3 p.m. when his kids (14, 13 and 12) come home from school, but he stays available to the Padres when needed, such as this very occasion. After spending the morning at NASDAQ OMX as part of the MLB contingent that rang the Opening Bell to help kick off Draft Day 1, he hung out with MLB Dream Job winner Mike O'Hara and wingman Ryan Wagner, spent 15-20 minutes answering Facebook and Twitter questions from fans, and walked around Greenwich Village for a video skit in which he "saves" O'Hara from various situations such as a busy intersection and a construction-site scene.
Then Hoffman was whisked over to MLB headquarters for a media luncheon with fellow club Draft representatives, and then finally shuttled over to Secaucus, N.J., to work the Draft.
"It's been a great day," Hoffman said. "A fabulous day for a lot of young ballplayers out there waiting to hopefully hear their names called and get their opportunity to go play professional baseball. It's a unique day in the middle of a season while baseball is going on, but so many amateur sports leagues are wrapping up and kids are looking forward to their opportunity to get the call."
Hoffman was drafted by the Reds in the 11th round of the 1989 Draft, 290th overall. He was a shortstop out of the University of Arizona, and it did not take him long to realize that he was going to have to make it as a pitcher in the pros.
"I was just hoping for the opportunity," Hoffman said. "A senior coming out of the U of A, I didn't have a whole lot of leverage. Lucky I got more than a bus ticket and $1,000 to go play ball, and ended up in a different position than I started. So, I think people need to keep that in mind when their careers start today, that you want to keep your mind open and keep plugging away."
Hoffman said "no" when asked if he could have made it as a position player.
"You didn't realize that until you get into it," he said. "You're going from a situation where you gear up every weekend for a ballgame, or midweek in college, and get practice and all the hype, to an extent, it's a completely different transition to playing every day, and having to deal with an 0-for-4 or a tough day in the field, and coming right back the next day and trying to overcome that. The amount of failure that you have to deal with as a player, and what this game is based on, those are things you have to look at."
As for the Fan Cave, Hoffman seemed to be one of the most curious visitors yet, asking O'Hara plenty of questions about any trends he has seen from watching every game, how his health is holding up, and so forth. Referring to his upcoming journey, he told O'Hara: "In case you guys want to pull out, we're going mobile."
"First impressions are great," Hoffman said. "It's a very comfortable atmosphere. The guys have all the amenities that they want and need, and they seem to be enjoying the opportunity to watch a lot of baseball."
Wills was a five-time All-Star with the Dodgers in a career from 1959-72, stealing 586 bases. He said he was "overwhelmed with everything" in being one of the key representatives promoting the full day for MLB, and he called the Fan Cave "very imaginative. There was nothing like this when I was coming up or when I was playing, and it's nice to be a part of it."
"The Dodgers are the greatest baseball organization ever," he said. "I've been a Dodger all my life. I've been with them since I was 17. I signed in 1950, and I'm here to announce the Dodgers' choice for the Draft and looking forward to saying hi to Commissioner [Bud] Selig."
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft airs Monday night on MLB.com and MLB Network, with the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Days 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.