This is off of the Cubs web-site…You don’t often get a look at this guys mind and it’s worth the look, I don’t mind saying that he’s my ideal pitcher…why? Aside from the success, he’s an average person…not a big guy, he doesn’t have the Rockets velocity or the greatest curve or slider, what he has is desire, and a determination to be prepared.
This is a call to all of you players that read this blog, take the time to work on your body, learn the art, study your opposition and you too can succeed!!!
MESA, Ariz. – Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano has made it no secret that one of his goals is to win the Cy Young Award. That used to be Greg Maddux’s goal heading into a season.
Maddux won four Cy Young Awards from 1992-95, the first pitcher to do so four consecutive years. He’s not really focused on collecting a fifth in this, his 20th season in the big leagues. Maddux already has notched his 300th win and his 3,000th strikeout since returning to the Cubs in 2004. However, the veteran pitcher is headed toward a personal milestone in April.
Greg Maddux is turning 40.
“It’s true when they say time flies,” said Maddux, whose birthday is April 14. “You always hear the older coaches coming in or older players come in and say, ’ They were right.”
The right-hander, who has a career 318-189 record and 3.01 ERA, is in better shape than last spring. Asked what he did differently, Maddux won’t get any more specific than to say, “just stuff.”
Last season’s 13-15 record was his first losing record since 1987. It was the first time he did not win at least 15 games after doing so 17 consecutive seasons. Maddux says he wasn’t able to “steal” any games, which means winning close games, 2-1, 3-2 or 1-0.
Could he have had a better record last year?
“If I got lucky, maybe. But it’s not about being lucky, it’s about being good,” Maddux said. “I’d rather be good than lucky. I don’t buy that ‘lucky, good’ [stuff]. I don’t buy that for a second. I had my chances last year. Starting pitchers can blow a save, too, and I blew a couple. I don’t look at, ‘Oh, we didn’t score.’ I look at the games I didn’t hold the lead. It goes both ways. Had I pitched better at times last year, I might have gotten a win.”
To win another Cy Young would be tough, Maddux admits. Zambrano does have a chance. But Maddux is capable of winning 15 to 20 games again. He’s always emphasized innings over wins, and has topped 200 innings in 17 of the last 18 seasons. The only year he missed was in 2002, when he totaled 199 1/3 innings.
That also was the only year he was on the disabled list, due to a back problem. Maddux does believe in throwing nearly every day, whether it’s just playing catch or an early morning bullpen session with Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild as his catcher. How has the right-hander stayed healthy?
“It’s knowing how to manage yourself a little bit, and it’s a lot of luck,” he said. “You have to know when to back off and know when to do a little more. It’s just listening to your body. Some days you need to back off, and some days, when you think you need to do more, you do more.”
He’s optimistic about the Cubs this year. Zambrano, Glendon Rusch, Mark Prior, Jerome Williams all look good. He also likes the bullpen additions of Bob Howry and Scott Eyre.
“I like to be optimistic,” Maddux said. “It’s still early. We’re not really in a routine yet, and guys are still learning each others’ names and playing together.”
Maddux is a different pitcher now at 39 than he was at 29.
“As a young pitcher, you get by with stuff, and as an older pitcher, you get by knowing how to pitch,” Maddux said. “That’s why you see pitchers when they pitch the first year or two, they have great potential and have a lot of success early, and then they either taper off or take it to a new level.”
The 2006 season is the last year of Maddux’s contract with the Cubs. Does he want to keep going?
“We’ll see,” he said. "It’s what I do. I enjoy coming to the ballpark every day. It’s a good life. Mentally, I don’t want to give it up.
“It’s easy to sit here right now and say I’d love to go out and have a good year and play next year. I’d love to do that, no question,” he said. “I’m going to do what I can to have a good year this year. I’d love to get a shot at postseason in Chicago. I think there would be nothing better than that. I’m going to do everything I can to play my role in that. When it comes time to decide on next year, I’ll decide. It’s not time for that. There’s too much in front of me right now to worry about the following year.”
If he has a solid year, he could lower his career ERA under 3.00. This is the first year it’s been over since 1994. He also has a chance to finish with less than 1,000 walks (he’s issued 907 free passes).
But winning in Chicago could trump all the personal stats.
“In Atlanta, we went [to the postseason] all 11 years I was there,” he said. "It wasn’t that big a deal. That’s how it is. In Atlanta, you’re going to pitch in the postseason. I know there’s no sure things, but we knew it. We didn’t know how we were going to get there, but we knew we’d get there. That’s how it is.
“It seems like the people in Chicago and the organization and the people who work around the ballpark would appreciate it,” Maddux said. “It would be something special, like it was when the Cubs almost went a few years ago [in 2003].”
Maddux had a front-row seat in 2003. The Cubs beat his Braves in the National League Division Series in five games. Do the Cubs have what it takes?
“The pitching is good enough,” Maddux said. “You get [Kerry Wood] back, you have Prior, Zambrano, myself, Jerome – the pitching can be good enough to get there. The biggest difference is that in Atlanta, you knew you were going to get 600 innings out of three guys. Three very good pitchers. You knew you were going to get 600-plus innings out of three guys. When [the Cubs] start to get that, you’ll see this team win.”