Padres' arms, catchers arrive at camp
Impressive pitching contingent ready to lead charge
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Scott Linebrink stepped through the clubhouse doors Thursday afternoon, and there at his locker in a heartbeat was Trevor Hoffman, meeting his buddy with a big hug."Welcome back," Major League Baseball's all-time saves king said to his main setup man. "I don't know what I'd do without you." As greetings go, this one was heartfelt. Linebrink and Hoffman remain a team within a team, none of the trade rumors involving the big Texan having materialized. As athletes familiar and unfamiliar wandered in and out, it was apparent that the Padres' pitching staff looks as formidable as ever with future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux arriving along with another of the game's premier veteran artists, David Wells. Hoffman, whose weight never strays from the 220-to-225-pound range, declared himself in prime condition for another run at the Cy Young Award after finishing second in the balloting to Arizona's Brandon Webb last season. "Hopefully, it's going to be another productive year," said Hoffman, the National League's saves leader with 46 in '06. "Everybody's got to pull their weight and not be content. "I'm right on pace physically, knock on wood. I'm pretty diligent with my workouts throughout the season and offseason, but I found time to relax with my family. I've gained some strength back, doing some weight work in the chest area I'm not able to do during the season." Hoffman, with 482 career saves and the prospect of reaching 500 by midseason, is surrounded by arms, 31 by count. The pitchers and catchers will have their physical exams Friday and begin the process of getting loose at Peoria Sports Complex in Arizona. Reporting date for position players is Monday, with the first full-squad workout set for Wednesday. Embarking on their quest for a third consecutive NL West title behind a new leader, first-time manager Bud Black, the Padres are confident they have assembled a pitching staff that will be the equal of any in their league and perhaps in all of Major League Baseball. The two potential Hall of Famers, Hoffman and Maddux, have some impressive company. Wells, who spent the final month and postseason with the Padres in '06, brings his big-game profile and 230 career wins to go with the 333 compiled by Maddux.
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Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.