Hoffman and Beck

Kevin Towers continues to preach the importance of Trevor Hoffman returning to the San Diego Padres. In fact, not much else can be squeezed out of him until he completes that task. He touches upon the catcher situation, but it is clear Hoffman is dominating his thoughts much like Trevor dominates hitters.

"We want to get Hoffman completed first," said Towers. The Padres have until Nov. 8 to decide whether to pick up Hoffman's $10 million contract for 2004 or buy him out for $2 million.

Since Hoffman made only nine September appearances after missing five-sixths of the season because of two rounds of shoulder surgery, the Padres aren't expected to pick up the option on the 35-year-old closer. But they also don't want to see their all-time leader in saves walk away.

Talks are progressing and both sides are confident a deal will happen soon.

"I hope to have something done on Hoffman before the buyout becomes an issue," said Towers, who has made Hoffman incentive-laden one-year and two-year deals.

"We're working hard on this. We want Trevor to be a Padre for the rest of his career. He definitely has an interest in staying. If it gets to the point we have to buy him out and he becomes a free agent, that doesn't mean it's the end. It just means we don't have exclusivity to talk to him."

The Padres also want to retain fellow right-handed closer Rod Beck, who was 20-for-20 in save situations since joining the Padres as a free agent. But Beck, who is represented by the same agent as Hoffman, declared free agency after the end of the season. Beck is 14 saves shy of the magical 300 mark for a closer.

"I'd love to have them both back in 2004," said Towers. "A Hoffman-Beck combination would give us a great start toward the type of bullpen we want to build. But I'm not sure if we're going to be able to keep both as much as I'd like to."

If both were retained by the Padres, Hoffman's role would be as the closer while Beck's primary role would be as the setup reliever and closer in situations when Hoffman had worked in two or three straight save situations.

"Honestly, I don't know if Rod could reach 300 saves next year in that role," said Towers.


The Padres held a Halloween party Friday (Oct. 31) for the children victims of the brush fires that have ravaged San Diego County.

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