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Hoffman looks back fondly on time with Crew

June 18, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- A Padres cap adorns the likeness of Trevor Hoffman on his Hall of Fame plaque, but he hasn’t forgotten which cap he wore to close his stellar career. Hoffman’s final two seasons, 2009-10, were spent in Milwaukee. “I couldn’t have been more welcomed by the guys,” Hoffman

SAN DIEGO -- A Padres cap adorns the likeness of Trevor Hoffman on his Hall of Fame plaque, but he hasn’t forgotten which cap he wore to close his stellar career.

Hoffman’s final two seasons, 2009-10, were spent in Milwaukee.

“I couldn’t have been more welcomed by the guys,” Hoffman said Tuesday at Petco Park while renewing acquaintances with Brewers coaches, players and staff who remain from his time in Milwaukee. “The fans, obviously, were incredible with the passion that they have. It was a good time.

“Things ended here [in San Diego]. To be able to go an environment, an organization that was as class as Milwaukee was, it was great.”

Hoffman was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last July after accumulating 601 saves. The last 47 of those came with the Brewers. He had an All-Star season in 2009, then struggled at age 42 in '10 and ceded the role of closer to John Axford.

Even with a short stay in Milwaukee, he made an impact.

“The night he saved his 600th game in Milwaukee, he gave a wonderful speech in our clubhouse, and it had nothing to do with him,” said Craig Counsell, Hoffman’s teammate then and the Brewers’ manager today. “That was a great individual accomplishment, something he did, but all he wanted to talk about was his teammates, what his teammates meant to him and what being a Brewer meant to him.

“He shined all the light on us, rather than him. He was great at doing that.”

Hoffman is back in the Padres’ fold now, working with Minor League pitchers. He remains thankful for how well he was treated in Milwaukee, especially during his rough final season.

“I wasn’t doing my job,” he said. “That’s ultimately what I was bothered by. But it was an also an opportunity. I’d been talking the talk for such a long time that the team is bigger than the individual, and that was the opportunity to walk the walk.

“It gave me an opportunity to not be a cancer, to continue to still teach and still be a leader even if I was in a role that isn’t usually considered to be a leader.”

Gonzalez tosses bullpen

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez took a step forward in his return from arm fatigue by throwing a light bullpen session Tuesday.

“It’s a good step for him,” Counsell said. “He was eager to get the process started.”

Gonzalez likely will throw another bullpen session on the upcoming homestand and perhaps a live batting practice session before heading out on a Minor League rehab assignment. The Brewers are looking at just before or just after the All-Star break as a target for Gonzalez’s return. He was 2-1 with a 3.19 ERA in six starts before going on the injured list on June 1.

Lawrie released

The Brewers have decided to pull the plug on the Brett Lawrie experiment.

The team released Lawrie from his Minor League contract on Tuesday, ending a bid to get the former first-round Draft pick back to the big leagues for the first time since 2016. Lawrie, whose career was derailed by lower body injuries, had been working to gain strength at the Brewers’ renovated facility in Phoenix, which includes a new sports science wing. But Lawrie never progressed to the point of playing in games.

“When Brett joined the team, we set out some benchmarks along the way that would serve as checkpoints,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten quite as far along in the process as everyone would have hoped. Brett worked very hard throughout, but given where we are right now, we thought this made the most sense for everyone involved.”