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Hoffman imparts wisdom to Padres' relievers

'Trevor Time' has become a popular part of the spring schedule
MLB.com @AJCassavell

PEORIA, Ariz. -- On the daily schedule board in the far corner of the Padres' clubhouse, there's a list of each day's activities organized into groups. Beneath the scheduled bullpen sessions and workout plans, a short 20-minute segment is blocked off for a handful of relievers.

"Trevor Time," the caption says.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- On the daily schedule board in the far corner of the Padres' clubhouse, there's a list of each day's activities organized into groups. Beneath the scheduled bullpen sessions and workout plans, a short 20-minute segment is blocked off for a handful of relievers.

"Trevor Time," the caption says.

Those words once glowed from the Petco Park scoreboard each time legendary closer Trevor Hoffman entered a game to AC/DC's "Hells Bells." A decade later, Trevor Time means something entirely different for Hoffman and the Padres.

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Last month, Hoffman cemented his place in baseball history when he was voted into the Hall of Fame. He'll be inducted in July. There's perhaps no better source of knowledge for San Diego's current relief corps than Hoffman, who racked up 601 saves and a 2.87 ERA during a brilliant 18-year career.

So this spring, the Padres have arranged for their relievers to meet with Hoffman and pick his brain in an informal setting. 

"Every word he says, you try to soak it up as much as you can," said Phil Maton, who, along with Colten Brewer, met with Hoffman Friday morning. "Anything he says, it could be that little edge you need to take that next step forward."

Added Padres left-hander Buddy Baumann: "I look at him as just a sage. There's so much knowledge in there, and he has so much to give. And that's the thing about him: Whenever he's around you, he's on your side. He's so approachable."

Tweet from @THoffman51: Great to be back with the boys! pic.twitter.com/Huyn9kcwTQ

Hoffman has spent time as an adviser in Padres camp every spring since his retirement. His presence on the back fields and bullpen mounds is a staple.

But Trevor Time serves a different purpose. It's an informal setting, typically featuring only two or three relief pitchers and Hoffman. They meet wherever there's space. And they'll chat, with Hoffman taking the initiative, but leaving the forum open for all forms of questions and observations.

"He explains situations, his mindset in a game, what we should be trying to accomplish, all kinds of stuff," Maton said. "It's mind-blowing, and it explains why he was so successful. His killer instinct, his work ethic, it's no surprise he pitched the way he did."

Like many of these Padres, Maton grew up watching Hoffman on TV. Among the current crop of relievers in camp, there's a particular reverence for his accomplishments. Hoffman, meanwhile, is eyeing a more personal relationship. That's the biggest reason groups are limited to two or three pitchers at a time.

"More than anything, it's giving guys the ability to be comfortable talking to me," Hoffman said. "As we move forward throughout the year, if I'm walking through the clubhouse and they're comfortable saying, 'Hey Hoffy, can we talk?' that's only going to come if we break down that barrier now."

Hoffman doesn't have a specific message he's trying to impart. The topics change, depending mostly upon his audience. There's a different conversation to be had with youngsters looking for a breakthrough than with veterans trying to re-establish their success.

Among the themes Hoffman plans to touch on are accountability, pitching philosophy and self-evaluation. But most important, Hoffman wants to make sure Padres relievers are comfortable seeking him out for guidance. That message has been heard loud and clear.

"Hats off to him; he could do whatever he wants," said Baumann. "The fact that we can approach a guy like that and that he's so available to us, is really important."

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

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