PHOENIX -- The Dodgers weren't kidding when they said they would cast a wide net in last year's managerial search, as CEO Stan Kasten asked Hall of Famer Greg Maddux if he'd ever thought about managing.Kasten said Maddux was pretty surprised at the veiled offer and declined, but the conversation
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers weren't kidding when they said they would cast a wide net in last year's managerial search, as CEO Stan Kasten asked Hall of Famer Greg Maddux if he'd ever thought about managing.
Kasten said Maddux was pretty surprised at the veiled offer and declined, but the conversation led to Maddux's hiring as special assistant to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
Wednesday was Maddux's first day in uniform at Camelback Ranch-Glendale and he had Cy Young company, as Clayton Kershaw was throwing a bullpen session and Eric "Game Over" Gagne was also in uniform as a guest instructor. Ron Cey, Shawn Green and Eric Karros are also expected as guest instructors later in camp.
Gagne, a former teammate of new manager Dave Roberts, is one in a series of former Dodgers being brought in as a guest instructor. He is coach of the French national team for the World Baseball Classic and said he remains eager to get back into organized ball as a coach.
• Spring Training:Schedule | Tickets | Information
Maddux, 50 in April, wasn't eager to be a manager, but said he loves the freedom of the part-time role he now has -- similar to previous ones he had with the Cubs and Rangers. He will be with the club the entirety of Spring Training, then work on selected projects. He owns a home in Dana Point, about 60 miles from Dodger Stadium.
His relationship with Kasten dates to the winter of 1992, when Kasten's Braves signed Maddux as a free agent coming off his first Cy Young Award. Maddux won three more Cy Youngs consecutively with the Braves, who made the postseason in each of his 10 full seasons in Atlanta.
Maddux has always been known as much for his head as his arm.
"He loves the game. He loves the uniform," said Kasten. "He loves to sit with the players and coaches and talk baseball. Few guys can talk more intelligently about the game than Greg Maddux. This is a huge plus for us."
Maddux's ability to simplify the game in conversation extends to the way he answers questions from the media, like when asked about his new role.
"The main thing is to try to help the players," he said. "Maybe something I say or do they've heard for five or 10 years, but maybe I say it a little different. You just try to help them."
Maddux said he prefers when a player comes to him seeking help, rather than offering it unsolicited.
"It's always better when they come to you," he said. "Sometimes you throw stuff out there and nobody's listening. As a player, if I needed something, I went somewhere to try to get it. If people threw it in my face, it didn't stick as much."
And Maddux, long the best pitcher in the game, had this to say about Kershaw:
"He's top of the game, he's THE best pitcher in baseball. He sets a high standard for himself. He's been able to turn into a winner. A lot of guys have the stuff and makeup, but not everybody is a winner. He's able to win and stay healthy."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com.