Hoffman Greeted by Big Brewers Fan Turnout
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Career saves leader Trevor Hoffman already has his trademark "Hells Bells" ready for Milwaukee. Next up, a chat with the radar gun operator at Miller Park.
The 41-year-old Hoffman signed with Milwaukee two weeks ago and was introduced Saturday at Milwaukee's two-day fan festival with thousands watching.
Hoffman, whose $6 million, one-year deal includes up to $1.5 million in incentives, is not an overpowering pitcher. He's relied on his changeup for the majority of his 554 saves, including 30 of 34 chances last season.
"The thing that makes it effective is strike one, regardless of how you get it," he said. "It's important to throw strikes, it's important to pound the zone with a number of pitches."
So just how fast is Hoffman's fastball?
"I'll have to talk to the radar guy here," he said. "Whatever they put up there, you've got to believe it."
The right-hander chose Milwaukee over the Los Angeles Dodgers, even though he said the two offers were "definitely close" after San Diego pulled its offer of $4 million for 2009 with a club option for $4 million in 2010.
Hoffman talked to Mike Cameron, his former teammate with the Padres, who helped validate what Brewers management had told him about the team's direction.
"The things that I was hearing were music to my ears. I believe when you leave your home, whether it's Pittsburgh or Kansas City or in this case San Diego, you go out and play somewhere else -- it could be an hour-away drive or a four-hour flight -- you're still leaving your home destination," he said. "I'm looking forward to setting down some roots for a while here."
Hoffman, who went 3-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 48 appearances last year, had pitched for the Padres since 1993 and was the face of the franchise after Tony Gwynn retired. Now, he'll be playing with Brewers outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr.
"Tony was a 10-year-old boy following real close behind his father," said Hoffman of his first meeting with the younger Gwynn. "(He) turned into a major league ballplayer himself. I think I'm the first guy that's going to have an opportunity to play with both as a teammate. That's exciting."
Hoffman will be heavily relied on to mentor a bullpen that's undergone major changes.
The departures of Salomon Torres, who retired, and Eric Gagne, who struggled early before finding his role as a setup man and is now a free agent, made bolstering the bullpen a major need for new manager Ken Macha and the Brewers this winter.
Milwaukee, which made the postseason last year for the first time since 1982, also is missing left-handed specialist Brian Shouse, who declined arbitration and is also a free agent.
"We've had some turnover in the bullpen," general manager Doug Melvin said. "It's one of the challenges -- how to replace a Salomon Torres and some of the other members. Sometimes you can't do it by three or four people, but we thought we did it by one big addition here."
That's Hoffman, who hopes Brewers fans will jam to his AC/DC song for "Trevor Time" in Milwaukee.
"It's part of the routine. It allows me to focus on what the job at hand is. It's part of the theatrics of the game in the ninth inning, which is great, but I have a job to do," Hoffman said. "I think everybody will have a good time with it."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)