Hoffman retires as all-time saves leader
Closer finishes with 601 saves, will join Padres' front office
All-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman has retired following 18 years in the Major Leagues.
Hoffman, a seven-time All-Star who finishes his career with 601 saves, spent all but three of his 18 seasons with San Diego and will return to the Padres in a still-undefined, front-office role.
"It's time to retire. It's time to move on," Hoffman told MLB.com via phone from San Diego, where he and his family still make their home. "This is more of a self-evaluation. I expect to pitch at a certain level, and I had to be honest with myself that I wasn't certain I could maintain that anymore."
Padres CEO Jeff Moorad said Hoffman will spend the 2011 season learning different facets of the front office, including baseball operations, before he "decides over time where he wants to focus his energies."
"Clearly, Trevor is one of the most significant players in Padres history," Moorad added. "It seems only right that he's back as part of the Padres family."
Cubs hope to see more postseason success from Garza: With the acquisition of Matt Garza, the Cubs know they have a pitcher who is not only extremely talented, but one that knows how to pitch in pressure situations.
"[Garza has] pitched at the highest level and on the biggest stage and seems to have liked that part of the action," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry told the Chicago Sun-Times.
"From our work done with other people who have played with him and coached him, this is a guy who wanted to pitch against the Yankees and Red Sox. He wanted the challenge."
Hardy has big plans at the plate: Shortstop J.J. Hardy, who joins the Orioles this season, believes he's capable of generating more power at the plate.
"There's no question in my mind that that's what I'm capable of," Hardy told MLB.com, referring to his consecutive 20-plus homer seasons in 2007 and '08. "This last year, I felt like would have been a good year to do that.
"But I definitely believe that's the player I am and definitely capable of it. I'm kind of looking forward to having a year like that this year."
De Fratus auditioning for bullpen spot: Justin De Fratus knows that he may not make the Opening Day roster in Philadelphia, but just having the opportunity is exciting for him.
"I'd be lying if I said [being on the Opening Day roster] didn't cross my mind," De Fratus told the Philadelphia Daily News. "But as far as that being a thought process going into camp, all I want to is just do my thing and give myself the best chance to make the team. And if not, that's fine. Then I'll just go to the Minor Leagues and do what I have to do to get myself to that point."
Renteria's leadership a bonus for Reds: World Series MVP Edgar Renteria brings more than offensive prowess and defensive skiils to the Reds.
"The thing with him that is a big plus -- we obviously think he can still play -- but he's a leader," general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "He's good with the young guys. He helps the other players. He's just a class guy."
Ohlendorf favors mysteries on game day: A fan asked avid reader Ross Ohlendorf about his preferences during an online chat.
"Thanks for the question. As it sounds like you have heard, I have been in the habit of reading on game days over the last few seasons," Ohlendorf told MLB.com. "While I don't have a favorite book, I have several favorite authors. Some of these are Dan Brown, Patricia Cornwell, Daniel Silva and Dick Francis. I generally read mysteries and detective-type books."
Escalona brings lefty depth to Astros: The Astros acquired left-handed reliever Sergio Escalona from Philadelphia for Minor Leaguer Albert Cartwright.
Escalona, who has some Major League experience, will be given a shot to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster during Spring Training. In 50 games for Double-A Reading last season, Escalona was 4-8 with 10 saves and a 3.81 ERA. He also held left-handed hitters to a .188 batting average.
"Our guys have liked Sergio over the last couple of years," Astros general manager Ed Wade told MLB.com. "They think particularly in a left-on-left situation he can really be helpful. He had a good winter ball season. He pitched in 24 games down there and was scored on in two games and unscored upon in the others."
Carlos Gonzalez keeps things simple with deal: The seven-year deal between Carlos Gonzalez and the Rockies is now official.
"I love the city, and I love to play with the Rockies," Gonzalez told the The Denver Post. "This is a family. That's why it made this easy. We were waiting for something that was fair, and this was fair enough for me."
Gonzalez, who was acquired from Oakland after the 2008 season in a deal that sent Matt Holliday to the A's, claimed the 2010 National League batting title with a .336 average, led the league in hits (197) and total bases (351), and won his first Gold Glove. He also ranked third in runs (111), fourth in home runs (34) and second in RBIs (117) in the NL.
Bartlett signs two-year deal with Padres: Weeks after being dealt to the Padres, Jason Bartlett has agreed to a two-year deal with the club with a club option for 2013.
"When we traded for Bartlett, it was with the hope that we could sign him to a multi-year contract," Padres general manager Jed Hoyer told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Improving ourselves up the middle was a priority this winter. Both [Orlando] Hudson and Bartlett play key positions. They play positions you have to be strong at. I feel we are better up the middle ... solid and stable.
"Having them together for at least two seasons makes our pitching staff better and makes next offseason easier."
Sandoval using offseason to slim down: Pablo Sandoval is working out on his own this offseason and says he's lost 17 pounds.
"Hopefully, he's doing well because he's [like] our new free agent," coach Shawon Dunston told the San Francisco Chronicle. "If he gets back to his 2009 form, watch out."
"When I saw him, he looked great. He really did," said Rich Aurilia, who bumped into Sandoval at a Phoenix-area shopping mall.
Aardsma looking to Opening Day after surgery: David Aardsma recently underwent hip surgery that was more involved than originally anticipated. Still, the Seattle closer expects to resume throwing under the original timetable.
"It was a bit more extensive," Aardsma told the Seattle Times of the surgery. "But my goal is still Day 1, and they say that's not unreasonable."
"They expect me to still be throwing on the same four-week timeframe," he said. "That is, four weeks after the surgery, I can throw. It won't be a bullpen session, or to live hitters or anything like that. But it's still throwing and that's important."
Francisco targets starting spot in right field: Ben Francisco is one of several players competing to play right field for the Phillies.
"I hear about it," Francisco told MLB.com. "I just go with what the team told me. They told me to be ready to go out there and compete to win the job. They feel like I can go out there and do great things. I want to go out there and show I can as well."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.