Notes: Future not on Hoffman's mind
Closer could play last game as a Padre on Saturday
SAN DIEGO -- Trevor Hoffman, the face of the franchise for more than a decade, is fully aware of the reality that he could be pulling on his Padres uniform for the final time on Saturday night -- not that he he'd let his impending free agency after 13 seasons interfere with more pressing concerns."I'm not ready to start thinking about that yet -- but it's definitely crossed my mind," Hoffman said on Friday in anticipation of Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals at PETCO Park, a match the Padres must win to extend their season. The team's acknowledged leader, as well as its classic closer (with 434 of his 436 saves in a Padres uniform), Hoffman never has let personal issues take precedence over the club's needs. What his team needs at the moment is a life preserver. "I'm not worried about the perception of how I might go out," Hoffman said. "I just want to get a win for my ballclub. We've got to get a win. It's been my focus since I started playing ball -- how the team goes. "Now's not the time to think about that. It's out of my control." The first two games of the series also were out of his control, and that is the most difficult aspect of life as a ninth-inning specialist. If his team doesn't get him a lead, Hoffman is an untapped resource. But this one occasion might be different. With survival at stake, Hoffman will volunteer to enter sooner than as is his custom, and he'll work a longer shift against the Cardinals if that's what manager Bruce Bochy and his team require. "I'm the last guy who hasn't been used," he said. "With the days off, I'm sure it's a situation where he might use me earlier. Our lifeline's not very long right now." What Hoffman is stressing to teammates is the importance of walking tall and carrying positive thoughts -- no slouching defeatism.
"My approach is to keep it at an even keel," Hoffman said. "As devastating as it is to be down 0-2, the way you walk and carry yourself is important. You don't want sloped shoulders and heads down. Stay positive."Randa's celebrated adviser: Padres third baseman Joe Randa received a phone call from a familiar voice before the series wishing him luck -- Hall of Famer George Brett, who preceded Randa as the third baseman in Kansas City. "We talk a lot," Randa said. "Playing third base, he's helped me a lot. One thing he told me was, `You've got to breathe and enjoy it. Take in a lot of deep breaths, try to smile, talk. Find ways to stay loose, enjoy the moment and not get tight.' "I try to remember what he said, savor it, relax as much as possible. I've remained loose, and I think the whole team has. We've played hard and created opportunities; it's just a matter of capitalizing." Randa, who established career highs this season with 43 doubles and 17 homers splitting time in Cincinnati and San Diego, also is a free agent after the season. He dismissed questions about that, saying he won't give it any thought until he's back home in Kansas City after the season. "That's the last thing from my mind," Randa said. "None of us are thinking about that." Back to the lefties: With Matt Morris on the mound for the Cards in Game 3, Bochy will go back to his left-handed hitters, with Dave Roberts leading off and playing center, Ryan Klesko in left and Robert Fick getting his first start of the series at first base. Fick had a single and a walk in two at-bats as a late-inning sub in Game 1. Klesko has been effective working the count and drawing walks behind Roberts, who came back after missing eight games with a leg muscle pull in Game 1 and is 1-for-4 in the series. "No doubt in my mind we're going to win [Saturday night]," Roberts said. "I believe it. If we didn't believe it, there would be no point in showing up." Conjunctivitis hits Peavy: Still trying to come to grips with his fractured rib, Padres ace Jake Peavy showed up on Friday with a reddened right eye, explaining that he had conjunctivitis. Peavy didn't sound as optimistic about pitching a Game 5 should the Padres manage to push it to the limit, but still wasn't dismissing the possibility out of hand. "I hope we can get to a situation where it's talked about," Peavy said. "We've got our hands full. We've got to play better fundamental baseball to get back in it." On deck: Woody Williams (9-12, 4.85 ERA) faces fellow right-hander Morris (14-10, 4.11 ERA) in Game 3 on Saturday night at 8 p.m. PT.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.