333-game winner Greg Maddux joins Padres

December 14th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: 333-game winner Greg Maddux joins Padres


Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - Now that he's finally pulled on a San Diego Padres jersey, Greg Maddux might try to pitch forever.
Maddux finalized his $10 million, one-year contract with the Padres on Wednesday, making a quick trip from his offseason home in Las Vegas to take his physical - which he passed - and then be introduced at a news conference.
The Padres tried to sign Maddux as a free agent twice before in his long, outstanding career, but lost out first to the Atlanta Braves and most recently to the Chicago Cubs.
Although Maddux might not have the same stuff he did when he won the Cy Young Award four straight seasons, his 15 wins with Chicago and Los Angeles last season would have led the Padres.
Maddux turns 41 on April 14. He seems a long way from even pondering retirement.
"I'm sure I'll get fired one day," he joked. "I'm probably not going to quit, that's for sure.
"Last year I felt as good as I've ever felt," said Maddux, who pulled on a No. 37 jersey. "I do like the game, I do like the competition, I do like wearing a major league shirt. I like the atmosphere, I like everything about it. I'm not ready to give it up.
"I feel like as long as I can locate my fastball and change speeds, I have a chance to keep pitching for a long time."
Maddux is 333-203 with a 3.07 ERA. The likely Hall of Famer split last season between the Cubs and Dodgers, going 15-14 with a 4.20 ERA.
The deal for Maddux contains a $6 million player option for 2008. The price of the option would increase incrementally up to $10 million if Maddux pitches 200 innings.
He pitched 210 innings last season and won his record-tying 16th Gold Glove Award.
Maddux said it was apparent at the recent winter meetings, where his deal was worked out, that the Padres had more interest than the Dodgers.
"I'm glad things worked out the way they did," he said. "I wanted to come out here and make it as easy as I can on my family and still have a chance to win. I thought this was a perfect place for me."
Maddux said San Diego and Los Angeles were always his two favorite road trips, "plain and simple. Just because I kind of like it here. I like the water and I like the weather.
"Really, when you wake up in the morning and look outside, you know? That's one huge thing. It's close to Vegas. More importantly, the team was very good last year. They got a shot at the postseason. They made it to the dance. And hopefully this year we'll play a little bit better and go a little bit further."
Maddux is the major offseason addition for the Padres, who repeated as NL West champions last year before losing in four games in opening playoff round to eventual World Series champion St. Louis.
While adding Maddux, the Padres let Dave Roberts and Mike Piazza leave as free agents, and traded second baseman Josh Barfield to Cleveland for infielder Kevin Kouzmanoff and right-hander Andrew Brown.
Maddux joins a starting rotation headed by Jake Peavy that also includes Chris Young and Clay Hensley.
"I will say that San Diego's pretty fortunate, when you really think about it, to have one of the greatest starters the game's ever seen in Greg, and one of the greatest closers of all time," general manager Kevin Towers said. "That's something that I'm certainly looking forward to, to know that you've got a guy like Greg Maddux to start games and a guy like Trevor Hoffman to close games. So that should be very, very exciting."
Hoffman became baseball's career saves leader last season, with 482.
New Padres manager Bud Black, a former big league pitcher, remembers facing Maddux in the early 1990s at San Francisco's Candlestick Park.
"I remember that one at-bat where I saw the movement on the fastball, I saw the life in the hitting area," Black said.
Black hasn't seen Maddux pitch recently, but knows that "anybody who wins 15 games and pitches over 200 innings as much as he has, and garner the wins that he has, is still tough to hit."
Notes: Towers said he planned to speak Wednesday evening with Joe Bick, the agent for second baseman Marcus Giles. The Braves declined to tender Giles a contract for 2007, setting up a chance for him to join his hometown team and play with his older brother, Brian, the Padres' right fielder. Should the Padres sign Marcus Giles, he could take the leadoff spot vacated by Roberts.

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