During the offseason, the Chicago Cubs added one of the best pitchers in the history of the game to their staff – their front office staff.
Greg Maddux has been something of a roving tutor for the Cubs so far in his stint, and the various Cubs pitchers will continue to look to him for advice and support.
“[Maddux] is here to help out, and I think he just wants to stay out of the way and stay in the shadows and kind of hang out and watch baseball,” pitcher Tom Gorzelanny said. “It’s been fun having him around because of the way he is and the guy he is. He’s a funny guy.”
During Gorzelanny’s final spring start, Maddux was in the dugout, and he talked to the lefty between innings.
“If I made a mistake, he’d look at me, and I’d say, ‘Yeah, I know,’ ” Gorzelanny said.
Should the Cubs have Maddux suited up for Gorzelanny’s starts?
“I’ve got Larry,” Gorzelanny said. “Larry’s paved the way for a lot of this. [During] the small amount of time I was here last year, what Larry and I talked about was almost like a light going on. The way [Rothschild] went about explaining things was a lot easier than some of the ways before. He just simplified it. He said, ‘You know what you have, you know what you can do, so just do it. Don’t try to nitpick.’ ”
Gorzelanny, acquired last July from the Pirates, said he didn’t want to pester Rothschild too much or “he’d wring my neck.” So he bounced some things off Maddux this spring.
“This is the ideal situation for me, being on this team and being with Larry and having Greg come around every now and then,” Gorzelanny said. “It’s perfect.”
Carlos Silva feels the same way. The right-hander has one of Maddux’s No. 31 Cubs jerseys framed in his home, and it was there well before he joined the team in a December trade. Maddux’s number is one of six retired by the Cubs.
“This Spring Training for me is very special,” Silva said during camp. “To have Greg Maddux around, he’s my guy. … I was asking him the other day, ‘How can I throw a backdoor sinker to a lefty?’ It’s unbelievable — you ask him something, and the way he answers is … wow.”
“I think [Maddux] will pick up on whatever he wants to do in this game really quickly,” said assistant general manager Randy Bush, who took Maddux on a scouting assignment this spring. “He likes watching guys, and he’s really interested. And he has a good sense of humor watching games. He’s a fun guy — a lot of good one-liners.”
What will Maddux’s future in baseball be? His brother, Mike, is a pitching coach with the Rangers, but he is still deciding. He will travel to the Cubs’ Minor League camps this summer, spend time with the big league team and do some scouting.
“Where he’s more valuable for me is … I put so much pressure on myself on succeeding and doing the right thing,” pitcher Randy Wells said. “He’s good at keeping it loose and keeping it in a funny way.
“I remember one instance, I threw a pitch and I had a guy set up for a strikeout, and I chose the wrong pitch and got a ground ball. I came in, and he asked me, ‘What were you doing there? Why didn’t you throw a changeup there?’ He’s so smart. Sometimes I’ll out-think myself. I’ll think the hitter has got to be looking for it there, but so what?” cubs.com.
Don’t expect Maddux to be in the dugout, working as a true coach any time soon. But hopefully his presence will continue to be felt, even now that the “instructional” portion of the season is over, and the regular season is under way. My guess is, with Maddux’s competitive spirit, he won’t be able to stop himself.