Two weeks have passed since Greg Maddux received the phone call that all players dream of getting some day, but the effects of that call still haven’t sunk in.
He’s hoping it will happen soon, that he will come to realize the magnitude of being elected for enshrinement to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He will soon be among the game’s heroes he idolized during his boyhood.
So, he hasn’t written any of his speech, but he said thinking of induction day (July 27) makes him feel nervous. He cleared one hurdle Thursday, when it was announced that the longtime member of the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves won’t have a logo on his Hall of Fame plaque.
“For me, I couldn’t decide,” Maddux said.
In the meantime, Maddux is still an employee of the Texas Rangers as a special assistant to general manager Jon Daniels and as an eminently qualified resource for pitchers throughout the organization.
That’s what brought Maddux to Rangers Ballpark on Thursday as the annual off-season pitching minicamp winds down. He’s happy as a part-timer, but he hopes some of what he tells Rangers prospects will always be with them.
“One of the advantages of having a lot of coaches is you can pick things up from each one of them and try to mold into what you do on the mound,” Maddux said. “You’re always looking for anything to help yourself improve as a player. You never know when you’re going to get a tip that’s going to help you on the mound.”
The group of pitchers in town this week, including left-hander Martin Perez and 2013 first-round pick Alex Gonzalez, sat in on the news conference at the behest of pitching coach Mike Maddux, who wanted them to watch his younger brother handle the media.
Many of them have spent time with Greg Maddux, and his hope is that his status as a four-time Cy Young winner and soon-to-be Hall of Famer doesn’t intimidate a pitcher from picking his brain.
“Most of the guys know me well enough that hopefully they don’t think that,” he said. “I’m pretty approachable. If they don’t know that, they’ll learn that. The purpose of me being here is to help them and share my experiences with them.”
Prospects like Gonzalez and Luke Jackson, the Nolan Ryan Minor League Pitcher of the Year, have a new pitching coach at each stop, not to mention minor league pitching coordinator Danny Clark, consultant Mark Connor and Maddux.
It takes more than just a few voices to help a pitcher develop. Maddux said that all of his pitching coaches and teammates have had some part in his success, beginning in rookie ball and including his final pitching coach in the majors. And he now has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to pass along.
“I learned from the players in front of me, and hopefully I can help the players behind me as well,” said Maddux, who won 355 games in 23 big-league seasons. “I try to help with pitch selection. I try to help with the mental side. I try to help by relaying my previous experiences on the mound. What all those guys go through on the mound, I think I’ve gone through that.”
Maddux is learning, too, from coaches in the Rangers’ system. That includes his brother, who has taught him that work as a full-time pitching coach isn’t all that desirable right now.
Besides, he has some prep work to do for the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in seven months.
“It makes me realize I’m glad I’m doing this part-time,” Maddux said. “Right now, I’m very content. I enjoy my time off, I enjoy the time with my family and I enjoy being able to do things outside of baseball as well as inside baseball. I’m pretty lucky to have the opportunity here that I’ve been given.”
“I learned from the players in front of me, and hopefully I can help the players behind me as well. I try to help with pitch selection. I try to help with the mental side. I try to help by relaying my previous experiences on the mound. What all those guys go through on the mound, I think I’ve gone through that.” Greg Maddux