Padres' Hosmer gives Hoffman Rolex after receiving No. 30

ByJerry Crasnick ESPN logo
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Eric Hosmer earned a reputation as a first-class teammate over seven seasons with the Kansas City Royals. It didn't take his new club in San Diegolong to find out why.

Hosmer was grateful when Padres third base coach Glenn Hoffman gave up his No. 30 uniform jersey as a sign of goodwill at the start of spring training, so he recently surprised Hoffman with a Rolex watch at the Padres' complex in Peoria.

Hosmer wore No. 35 in Kansas City, but that jersey is retired in honor of Padres Hall of Famer Randy Jones. Hosmer wanted to wear No. 30 in San Diego as a tribute to his late Royals teammate Yordano Ventura, who died in a car crash in the Dominican Republic in January 2017. But he needed the go-ahead from Hoffman to make it happen.

"Like I said to Hoffy, it was extremely meaningful for me,'' Hosmer said Tuesday. "So I wanted to get a nice gesture for him. It's an unwritten rule throughout the league that if a veteran guy comes and asks for a number and somebody has it, you do something like that for him.''

Hosmer declined to comment on the cost of the Rolex, but he said a "friend in Kansas City'' helped pick out the gift. Hoffman has since switched to jersey No. 26.

"I bet there were a lot of coaches who were mad they didn't have '30' after that,'' Hosmer said, laughing.

After a long winter of waiting, Hosmer signed a franchise-record eight-year, $144 million contract with the Padres a week ago. He is expected to bring veteran leadership, on-base ability and solid defense to a young San Diego team that exceeded expectations with 71 victories last season. He went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in his Cactus League debut against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday.

Hosmer spent part of the day getting acquainted with Jones, who is roaming the back fields in uniform this week. Jones, known as the "Junk Man'' for his soft-tossing repertoire, went 22-14 with a 2.74 ERA for the Padres and won the National League Cy Young Award in 1976.

"I was messing with him about his windup, and he told me he wants a baseball card of me doing it,'' Hosmer said.

As Hosmer acclimates to Padres camp, he is particularly encouraged by the surplus of young talent in the organization.

"The other day we had an infield that wasn't old enough to buy a drink yet," Hosmer said. "The wave of talent we've got coming up is pretty special to watch. It's one thing to hear about prospects and all that. To see the (young position players) and the arms as well, it gives you a lot to look forward to.''