ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers are hosting a pitching minicamp this week at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It's a chance for some of the organization's young arms to throw a little bit off the mound and do so under the watchful eye of a host of coaches, including future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.
Maddux is here as a special assistant. It's a part-time job that will allow him to spend time with his family but also keep him involved in the game.
"Today is Day 1 for me," Maddux said. "The organization, they know what they're doing, and and I'm just here to come and try to help out any way possible and try to get to know the players a little bit."
One of Maddux's key roles is to help the pitchers improve defensively. This was a Rangers pitching staff that committed 16 errors in 2011. Only the A's, Mariners and Blue Jays (three teams that didn't make the playoffs) had more in the American League. They also had a .934 fielding percentage, second-to-last in the AL (only the A's were worse).
"There is really no program [for defense in spring training]," Maddux said. "You just go out and do it. When you do your PFP's (pitcher's fielding practice) in spring training, that's when you do it. You don't write up a gameplan. You watch other guys do it. Usually when guys get to big league camp they are pretty good at technique and the fundamentals of PFPs. It's just a matter of reading the ball correctly off the bat and making the right decisions once you have the ball."
Maddux comes to spring training with plenty of defensive credentials. He had 18 Gold Gloves as a player.
"Fielding is important," Maddux said. "If you can catch three balls a game, that's an inning right there. If you pitch seven innings, you get three of them (outs), you're doing to six. It's important to be able to catch the ball when it's hit back to you and make accurate throws to all the bases.
Mike Maddux, the club's pitching coach, expects one of his brother's duties to be out helping the pitchers on the back fields in Surprise with defense.
"He definitely wants to be a part of the PFP program," Mike Maddux said. "It's been great having him here. This is Day 1 and we've all sat around and had coffee, told lies and get to fraternize a little bit and get everybody's take on stuff. I think everybody is on the same page. It's always good to hear from somebody that's done it. We all had dreams as kids and we fanaticized about being this prolific player and we have one and he just happens to be my brother. It's a lot of fun. Between him and Nolan, that's 600, 700 wins and 20,000 strikeouts and just a plethora of knowledge."