This will be in tomorrow’s paper
By Tony Jackson
History repeated itself on Tuesday. And so did Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.
“We had this conversation two years ago,” Colletti said to a small group of reporters, shortly after the Dodgers formally announced they once again had acquired veteran right-hander Greg Maddux. “He brings a lot more than just (pitching) every fifth day. He brings a lot to the party the other four days. too.”
Colletti was referring, of course, to leadership, and a degree of it that only a 23-year veteran with four Cy Young Awards under his belt can bring.
Two years ago, when Maddux came to the Dodgers in a trading-deadline deal with the Chicago Cubs, Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley, then a rookie, got a chance to learn from Maddux, both by watching him and by listening to him. This time, another rookie, lefty Clayton Kershaw, will get the same opportunity.
“(Maddux) adds more than just taking the ball every fifth or sixth day,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, virtually echoing Colletti. “What he has done in his career, and the way he has done it, I believe it’s going to add a lot, just his willingness to talk to the younger players and his presence.”
The Dodgers acquired Maddux from San Diego, along with what is believed to be about $1.3 million to cover slightly more than half of what remains of his $10 million salary for this season — the Dodgers appear to be on the hook for roughly $900,000. The Padres get two Dodgers minor leaguers to be named, which they will select from an already agreed-upon pool of five players, or they can simply choose to take one player and recoup some of the money.
To clear a 25-man roster spot for Maddux, the Dodgers optioned left-hander Eric Stults to Triple-A Las Vegas. Stults, who was in the majors for the second time this season, had been recalled from Las Vegas just five days earlier and hadn’t appeared in a game for the Dodgers. To clear a 40-man roster spot, the Dodgers moved reliever Scott Proctor from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. That still leaves Proctor eligible for activation as soon as Thursday, although he isn’t expected back anytime soon.
Maddux, who will make his first start for the Dodgers on Friday night at Philadelphia, downplayed his role as a leader.
“I don’t know what all that stuff means,” he said. “I’ll just try to be a teammate and do what I can to try to support guys. The coaching staff is usually good at teaching. I’ll just stay out of their way and let the coaches coach.”
While there is no denying Maddux’s Hall of Fame credentials — he has won 353 career games, including at least 13 in each of the past 20 seasons — there is a question as to how much he has left at age 42. Maddux struggled to a 6-9 record with the Padres this year, although his 3.99 ERA would suggest that has more to do with bad luck than anything else.
“Obviously, I’m not as strong or as durable as I once was,” he said. “It’s not easy for me to go out there and throw 120 or 130 pitches anymore. But you have to go out there and play with what you’ve got and hopefully give your team a good six or seven innings, then let everybody else do their thing after that.”
Maddux, who will be eligible for free agency in the fall, said he hasn’t decided whether to retire after this season.
“I’m not there yet,” he said. “A lot has happened in the last day or two, a lot of changes. I will worry about next year when the time comes.”