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Renteria: Greg Maddux's longevity 'a gift'

CHICAGO -- With Greg Maddux’s Hall of Fame induction right around the corner, Chicago Cubs manager Rick Renteria shared his thoughts on one of the greatest pitchers of all time.

Renteria’s first season on a big league bench was in 2008 with the San Diego Padres. Maddux made 26 starts with the Padres that season, his last in the majors.

"He was a very intuitive," Renteria said of the 20-time Gold Glove winner. "He could literally sit in the dugout and say, 'This guy is going to hit this ball right between his legs right now,' and, sure enough, boom, the guy would hit it right between his legs.

"He had a knack of recognizing and knowing where a ball was going to be projected. It was evident when you saw him fielding when he pitched. Many times he’d already be moving to the area where the ball was going to be batted to and had a step up on fielding the ball."

Renteria marveled at Maddux’s longevity and ability to stay healthy, something that’s become rare for today’s pitchers. Maddux played 23 seasons in the big leagues and during that time had just one stint on the disabled list. He tossed more than 200 innings 18 times in an era when reliever use increased significantly.

"I think that the ability for him to stay healthy and do what he did is a gift," Renteria said. "You’re either born with the genes to be able to do things like that or you’re not.

"I think there’s some things that contribute to the deterioration of the body at some point, but he was able to find something that kept him on the field a long time."

Maddux played the first seven years of his career with the Cubs, winning the first of his four consecutive Cy Youngs in 1992, before returning for parts of three seasons, beginning in 2004.

Maddux won 355 games with a 3.16 career ERA.

He’ll join Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre as 2014 Hall of Fame inductees.