GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The latest arrival to Los Angeles Dodgers camp carried an aura unmatched in baseball circles.
Greg Maddux, the team’s new special assistant of baseball operations, was in full uniform Wednesday, working with the team’s pitchers for the first time. Maddux, 49, was known for using a wealth of pitching knowledge to compile four National League Cy Young Awards during a 23-year playing career.
His mere presence is enough for even the most accomplished pitcher to stand up and take notice, but Maddux wants to do more than just be seen.
"I think the main thing is to try to help the players," Maddux said. "Obviously, I have to get to know them first, and they have to get to know you. I’ll just watch the players and get to know them. If there’s something I can say or do that might make them better, that’s the goal -- to try to make the players better."
The addition to the front office came about when Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kastan placed a call to Maddux a few months ago. Also added as a special assistant this month was former major leaguer Raul Ibanez.
Elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014, Maddux has already served as a special assistant for both the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. His job description is to give advice to pitchers on both the major league and minor league levels throughout the season.
Maddux claims his advice won’t be any different from anybody else’s, but he does admit that perhaps he can get through to a pitcher when others have not. And he also will teach things he wish he knew when he pitched.
"There’s some stuff I wish I heard, that I didn’t hear until I was 40 that I wished I’d heard when I was 20," he said. "There’s stuff I’ve heard since I’ve been out of baseball that I wish I’d heard."
Also seen on the grounds Wednesday was former Dodgers pitcher Eric Gagne, who does not have an official role with the team.
Maddux is known for his days with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves, but he had two separate short stints with the Dodgers late in his career. His final one was a brief seven-game stay in 2008, when he was teammates with certain 20-year-old pitcher that has done quite well for himself in the ensuing years. Maddux has been quite impressed with the career Clayton Kershaw has fashioned.
“You never think anybody is going to be that good,” Maddux said. “I mean, you knew he was good and he was going to pitch for a long time. He had an incredible fastball, good breaking stuff. And he’s been able to turn into a winner. I think a lot of guys have the stuff or the makeup but not everybody’s a winner. He’s been able to win and stay healthy and win a lot.”