Padres unveil Hoffman statue at Petco Park

August 19th, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- Petco Park's famed Tony Gwynn statue has some company -- courtesy of Gwynn's former teammate with the Padres, and now in Cooperstown, too.

The Padres immortalized legendary right-hander Trevor Hoffman on Saturday, unveiling a roughly 9-foot, half-ton likeness of the Hall of Fame closer before their game against the D-backs. He's the third franchise icon to be honored with a statue, joining Gwynn in the park area beyond the outfield and legendary broadcaster Jerry Coleman, whose statue greets fans at the K-street entrance.

"To have something like this that'll be there long after I'm gone -- my family will be able to bring my grandkids one day and they'll get to see it -- it's just such an honor," said Hoffman.

Hoffman's statue sits just beyond the left-center-field bullpens and depicts Hoffman with his signature high leg kick. In a creative twist, Hoffman faces toward Gwynn in right-center field. More than 50 yards separate the two. But the implication is clear: San Diego's greatest pitcher of all time, throwing to its greatest hitter.

"Thank goodness I'm not actually pitching to him," Hoffman quipped. "I don't know if that's necessarily what's trying to be played out. I look at it as more that I'm close to the bullpen, overlooking it, seeing what's going on down there. I love that Tony's out there by himself up on the grassy knoll, and Jerry is out in front where people can honor him."

The statues of both Hoffman and Gwynn were crafted by the same artist, William Behrends, who works from a studio in North Carolina.

The sculpture is merely the latest honor in a summer full of them for Hoffman, who was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame last month in Cooperstown, N.Y. Hoffman spent 16 seasons with the Padres, and in his 18-year career, he posted a 2.87 ERA and retired with a record 601 saves (a number which has since been surpassed by Mariano Rivera).

The organization honored Hoffman with a pregame ceremony on the field in which broadcaster Ted Leitner and executive chairman Ron Fowler paid tribute at the microphone behind home plate. After a rousing rendition of the national anthem by Anisha Gwynn, Tony's daughter, Hoffman was whisked away on a golf cart, from home plate to the area behind the bullpens.

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There sat the statue, covered in a blue sheet. The left-field videoboard counted down, and when it reached zero, the cover fell. The stadium erupted as Hoffman and his wife, Tracy, posed for pictures in front.

"I actually thought I was ready for the moment," Hoffman said. "But when it got to the point where I was out there in front of it, and it got unveiled, I started thinking a little bit -- it's for the fans. It gives them the opportunity to tell their story of what the game looked like, through their lens, to their kids and their grandkids.

"That's when it overcame me a little bit. This isn't just for me and my family. This isn't just a gift from the Fowlers and the Seidlers. This is for the Padre community -- that whole legacy and the biggest part of this amazing journey. It finally got to me a little bit."

Green non-committal on callups

Catcher and second baseman Luis Urias are tearing through Triple-A El Paso right now. Ranked as baseball's 21st- and 22nd-best prospects by MLB Pipeline, both could be in line for a callup later this season.

Over the past two years, the Padres have generally been slow to promote their top youngsters. , , and were held back until late September 2016 after their run to the Pacific Coast League title. In '17, wasn't promoted until the Chihuahuas had been eliminated.

"If we felt there were consistent at-bats here, that might change this year," said Padres manager Andy Green. "... If we felt the time in the big leagues was more valuable, we might not get in that position this year. That's not to say that we are [going to call up players early]. But I don't think you're married to one path or another as to what's the right path every year."

Urias has posted an absurd .407/.446/.644 slash line in August. Meanwhile, since coming from Cleveland in the Brad Hand trade a month ago, Mejia is hitting .320/.373/.467.

X-rays negative on Villanueva's foot

There's been a target on Villanueva's left foot over the past couple days. On Thursday, the Padres infielder was hobbled when he fouled a ball off his foot. On Friday, he took a Jake Diekman curveball to the same spot.

Villanueva remained in the game in both instances. But on Friday he was removed via a double switch shortly thereafter. Postgame X-rays came back negative, but the Padres gave him Saturday off, noting that he might be available to pinch-hit.

"Going out there and grinding through nine innings just wasn't our best choice," Green said.