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06/15/07 10:00 AM ET

Father's Day special for Hoffman, kids

Closer and kids make time to spend quality time together

SAN DIEGO -- The locker next to Trevor Hoffman's is occupied by three little men. Exactly three pairs of sandals are on the floor. Three small Padres hats in the cubbies, and an assortment of child-size jerseys with the No.51 hang inside.

The locker doesn't belong to one player, but to three boys: Brody (10), Quinn (9) and Wyatt Hoffman (8).

The Hoffman trio is a fixture in the clubhouse and at ballgames, both home and away.

"I think everyone in the clubhouse enjoys having them in here," said Padres second baseman Marcus Giles. "They're awesome, they're great kids [who were] obviously brought up the right way."

Hoffman, 39, is known to many as the all-time saves closer for the Padres. But to his three boys, he's their dad before everything else.

"I think they understand that [their] dad does something here with the Padres late in the game. I think I'm very normal in my approach with them and I'm very similar to a lot of other dads," Hoffman said. "I'm probably viewed more as a dad then this other entity, you might want to say and I'd rather have it that way."

Although Hoffman will not be with his sons on Father's Day, as the Padres will be on the road playing the Chicago Cubs, he still has a lot to celebrate on that special day.

"I don't think anybody is complaining, we are very blessed," Hoffman said.

The six-foot Hoffman tries to spend as much time as he can with Brody, Quinn and Wyatt. He goes to their Little League games on the weekends and helps them get dressed in the mornings, but it's a balancing act.

"It's a lot of inconsistencies," Hoffman said. "[The]early part of the season is tough because they're in school. I make sure that I get up with them in the mornings as often as I can and get to spend a little bit of time with them, because otherwise, I'm not going to see them."

"By the time I get home they are in bed, and by the time they leave I'm in bed. We kind of cross paths sparingly," Hoffman said. "Weekends, if they don't have as much going on, they come to the field with me and pick up time there."

Spending time with their dad in PETCO Park is just one way the Hoffman's try to make time for each other.

At the park, the young Hoffman's like hanging out with the rest of the ballplayers, like Marcus and Brian Giles, Health Bell and Rob Bowen to name a few of their favorites.

Before games, they change into their Padres uniforms like they did on May 26.

The Padres were facing the Milwaukee Brewers later that day but at the moment, it was batting practice. A couple of the Hoffmans were out near the dugout tossing the ball to each other. Wearing blue No. 51 uniforms and Padres caps with sunglasses on top of their lids were two of the Hoffmans, who played catch with Jose Cruz Jr.'s two sons.

"I try and come anytime I can," said Quinn, who likes to play catch "with my brothers, cousins and friends" at PETCO.

"They enjoy the environment they are in, they understand it's a privilege," Hoffman said. "Just the facilities, the food room, the video games they get to play. So I mean it's a big kid's, little kids dream."

When the game starts, his sons will sit behind the ditch, where they may or may not watch the game.

"You think they'd pay a little more attention with the amount of games they come to, but actually, I think it's the amount of games they come to, that it becomes a bit redundant for them," Hoffman said.

But they sure get excited when it's "Trevor Time." And lately, "Trevor Time" is happening more as Hoffman recently recorded save No. 500.

"They do enjoy when dad comes in," Hoffman said. "They get pretty jazzed when 'Hells Bells' starts playing and they get excited for the opportunity that we're going to win and they get to come in the clubhouse after the game."

But Quinn -- who has the same pale blue eyes as his dad -- said he gets worried when Hoffman is to the mound.

"When my grandma comes she brings rosaries and I hold onto them with her," Quinn said of the experience.

The roles Hoffman plays as a baseball player and father can be a juggling act, depending on the season.

"When your father goes on road trips once a week and comes and goes its hard to discipline over the phone," Hoffman said. "It's hard for a mom to be a single mother for that particular time. Then you get to the offseason and it's an all or nothing kind of thing where I'm home a lot and now they are going to get the wrath of dad being around a lot more."

Giles said seeing Hoffman in father-mode is great to see.

"It makes me laugh," said Giles. "I really know Trevor Hoffman as the baseball player, not the father. So, seeing him lay down the law a little bit is kind of funny. When he speaks the kids listen and that just shows you how good of kids they are."

Whether Hoffman's sons want to follow in their father's footsteps is uncertain. All he wants is Brody, Quinn and Wyatt's happiness.

"I want them to be happy. I think that's the biggest thing," Hoffman said. "It's not about what dad has accomplished or done. You know, they didn't choose their last name, they were born into it. There are expectations there that other kids don't have. Those are things they are going to have to put up with, but the one thing that is important in my eyes is that they work hard and give it their good effort."

Hoffman got the save on May 26. Can you guess who got to celebrate in the clubhouse with dad?

Elizabeth M. Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.