Rangers' pitchers being taught by Maddux brothers

Posted Sunday, Mar. 18, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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LAS VEGAS -- The kickoff to Big League Weekend at Cashman Field came complete with a city councilman riding horseback, a celebrity first pitch, and a pair of Vegas showgirls in sequin dresses, feathery hats and undersized bikini tops.

The gals' final stop Saturday was in front of the Texas Rangers' dugout, so that they could pose for photos with two Las Vegas dignitaries, hometown boys Mike and Greg Maddux.

Neither brother seemed to mind.

Even though they weren't born in Las Vegas, it eventually became their home after several moves as part of a military family. Greg still resides here with his wife and two children, as do his parents, and Mike considers it his hometown despite having lived elsewhere since 2004 with his wife and two daughters.

But their trip home this weekend is simply a nice footnote to what has been their reunion as Rangers pitching coaches this spring.

Their taking on roles as pitching coach (Mike) and special assistant to the GM (Greg) puts them in the same clubhouse for the first time since 1987 in Venezuela and has been refreshing on a personal level as they learn a little more about their passion and philosophy for the game.

"It's been great, really," said Greg, who was hired in November. "I didn't realize we shared as many of the same ideas as we do. It's allowed me to just be myself. I haven't had to change anything."

Greg has started to assert himself a bit more after spending the first few weeks of camp observing how things are done and how the Rangers' coaches teach.

The pitchers, he has learned, are more talented than he first saw at a distance on TV. Those telecasts don't show the work pitchers do between outings, something that has impressed Greg as much as anything.

"That's something I appreciate," he said. "You see it every day with the good players. They always want to be better. Just because you're going at something, there's always a way to get better. They understand that."

Players, he said, are welcome to come to him, though he is wary of telling a pitcher one thing while he's being told something else by another coach.

But he has made an impact in how Rangers pitchers do fielding practice. Rather than just take a few grounders a day, as had been the case in the past, pitchers are fielding more and more each time they work with Greg, who won a record 18 Gold Gloves in his career.

He has even been glad taking orders from Mike, his older brother by six years.

"I can do that," Greg said. "I don't mind."

Everything is going about as Mike expected it, though he's getting a taste of just how much Greg loves the game.

Greg won 355 games and four Cy Young Awards in his career and is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2014. He could do whatever he pleases in retirement but is choosing to stay close to baseball.

"There are a lot of guys who play this game and leave their mark on this game," said Mike, whose high school alma mater, Rancho, is about a mile from Cashman Field.

"Guys in his situation can do whatever they want. They could go play golf every day. They could go live in the Caymans. What does he want to do? He wants to come back and pass it on, and that is the refreshing part of it."

Mike, though, didn't offer much of an analysis of his brother's coaching, saying that he's happy as long as the pitchers are happy with Greg.

Guess what? They are.

"It's been really good," left-hander Derek Holland said. "He's helped me to be better defensively and also with pitch selection. He's one of those guys you dream about having a chance to play with or work with. It's pretty exciting to be a part of that."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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