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Hoffman subs for Broxton on NL team

Hoffman subs for Broxton on NL team

MILWAUKEE -- Instead of dropping fishing lines into a quiet lake somewhere in Southeast Wisconsin, the Hoffman clan is headed to the All-Star Game.

Brewers closer Trevor Hoffman accepted an invitation Sunday morning to replace injured Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton on the National League squad, and he will join fellow Brewers All-Stars Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder for Tuesday's Midsummer Classic in St. Louis. It will be the seventh All-Star appearance for Hoffman, Major League Baseball's all-time leader with 574 saves, and his first in anything but a San Diego Padres jersey.

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So much for a quiet, three-day break.

"It was a big surprise," Hoffman said. "It's nice to come in and have that kind of news get dropped on you. It's a big honor to be able to represent not only the Brewers, but the Brewer bullpen and what they've accomplished in the first half. It's indicative of putting a guy like myself in position to go."

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin received a call early Sunday morning from Major League Baseball senior vice president Katy Feeney, asking if Hoffman would consider an invitation. Melvin passed the word to Hoffman via Brewers manager Ken Macha.

For Hoffman, it was a no-brainer.

"I definitely welcome the opportunity," Hoffman said. "My kids are really excited, too. They've gotten older and they've been to quite a few, but they're starting to understand the dynamics that are a part of it and are really excited for Prince and the Home Run Derby.

"I'm excited for them to have the opportunity to go. They're at that good age. I think any 11- or 12-year-old would love to go to an All-Star Game in that capacity. It was a pretty easy sell."

Trevor and Tracy Hoffman's three sons are 10, 11 and 12.

The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage.

Hoffman has been outstanding in his first season in Milwaukee. Despite missing most of April with a rib cage injury, Hoffman woke up Sunday morning tied for sixth in the NL (with Broxton and fellow All-Star Ryan Franklin of the Cardinals) with 20 saves. Hoffman notched his 20th save in 22 chances on Saturday night in a 6-3 win over the Dodgers, a nice rebound from his second blown save Friday night.

Hoffman didn't even allow a run until his 19th Brewers appearance. Entering Sunday's series finale, he had a 2.05 ERA in 27 appearances.

"He's a Hall of Famer waiting to happen, obviously," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "To do what he's doing for as long as he does it [is impressive]. That's a position that is usually more of a dash than a marathon, but he's turned that thing into a marathon. The fact that he's made adjustments over the years to remain effective is a real feather in his cap."

In St. Louis, Hoffman will reunite with the pitcher who replaced him. Hoffman pitched 16 spectacular seasons for the San Diego Padres, but his contract was up after last season and the Padres elected to give the job to 31-year-old Heath Bell.

Hoffman signed a one-year, $6 million deal with Milwaukee, and Bell went on to post a 1.49 ERA in his first 34 games this season in San Diego. Entering Sunday, Bell and Brian Wilson of the Giants were tied for the league lead with 23 saves.

"[Bell's] had a tremendous first half and he's very deserving of being able to go," Hoffman said. "He's been a huge part of the success that they've had, so it's a feather in his cap to be able to represent the Padres. It's kind of funny how things work out."

"It's cool," Bell said. "I'm going to take a picture with him -- the best closer of all time and me ... up and coming. I miss him."

He missed Hoffman enough that Bell would like the chance to team with his mentor again.

"I was thinking about that, if he pitches the eighth inning and I pitched the ninth inning," Bell said. "Actually, I wouldn't even mind if he got the save and I got to set him up. It would be like old times."

With Braun, Fielder and Hoffman, the Brewers will send at least three players to the All-Star Game for the fourth straight season.

"I was a little surprised that he didn't get picked the first time," Melvin said, referring to the original All-Star roster announcement on July 5. "But he's had an All-Star career, and he's having an All-Star season."

At 41, Hoffman is the senior member of the NL squad, second oldest among all of the All-Stars to 42-year-old Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield. After Hoffman, next on the list is the Yankees' Mariano Rivera, the only other player in history with 500 saves. Rivera is Hoffman's junior by two years and one month.

Age apparently hasn't slowed Hoffman. He has saved at least 20 games in 15 seasons, a record, and he has made the All-Star team in three of the past four seasons and seven times overall: In 1998, '99, 2000, '02, '06, '07 and now '09. He's pitched in each of those games.

"They're all extremely gratifying, no one more than the other," he said. "Age being associated with it, you relish the opportunity. You don't know how often these come along."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Reporter Corey Brock contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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