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'Flattered' Maddux ready to boost staff

Pitching coach arrives after successful stint in Washington; Cecil away on personal matter
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

JUPITER, Fla. -- Over a professional baseball life that spans more than three decades, Mike Maddux has worn 13 different uniforms as a player and coach. All the while, he admired the reputation and tradition of the Cardinals organization -- from afar. And Cardinals' executives long admired Maddux, who owns one of the most extensive pitching coach resumes in the game.

The mutual admiration resulted in Maddux being hired to replace Derek Lilliquist as pitching coach, a deviation from the Cardinals' typical strategy of promoting coaches from within.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Over a professional baseball life that spans more than three decades, Mike Maddux has worn 13 different uniforms as a player and coach. All the while, he admired the reputation and tradition of the Cardinals organization -- from afar. And Cardinals' executives long admired Maddux, who owns one of the most extensive pitching coach resumes in the game.

The mutual admiration resulted in Maddux being hired to replace Derek Lilliquist as pitching coach, a deviation from the Cardinals' typical strategy of promoting coaches from within.

"He always seems to get the most out of his pitchers," Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said Wednesday. "It was a no-brainer."

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Standing in a new clubhouse early on his first official day in his new role, coffee in hand, Maddux called the decision to choose St. Louis over multiple other offers "easy."

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"I was flattered when they reached out," Maddux said. "I've always looked at the Cardinals as the Yankees of the National League. They were always the team everyone wanted to beat, because they were always beating everybody else."

He added: "I just wish this happened sooner so I could have met George Kissell. I heard so much about him."

A plaque honoring Kissell, the legendary instructor who spent nearly seven decades with the Cardinals before his death in 2008, is mounted outside the clubhouse here. It faces a group of pitching mounds, where Maddux's job in the coming weeks will be to build relationships with the entire new staff and oversee some open competition. Maddux's will be a new voice for most of the pitchers in Cardinals camp, and virtually all of the dozen or so relievers jockeying for bullpen roles.

"We'll start teaching from day one," Maddux said. "At this point in time, a successful day is when we start with 32 [healthy pitchers] and end with 32."

The front office hopes Maddux's voice rings louder than Lilliquist's had. Maddux must also familiarize himself with catcher Yadier Molina and new bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd, on whom he plans to lean heavily during the regular season. And incorporating more analytics into the team's pitching decisions also remains a priority, something Maddux described himself as open to.

"The better I understand it, I can pass on how it's relevant to that player," Maddux said. "If there is something out there and it helps a player get better, then it's on me. It makes me better."

Maddux comes to the Cardinals after a spending the last two seasons with the Nationals, where he coached two of the three NL Cy Young Award finalists in 2017, including winner Max Scherzer. Manager Mike Matheny hopes his influence can help Carlos Martinez elevate himself to a similar level.

"I have no problem with that challenge," Maddux said.

One man missing

The lone missing pitcher at the club's mandatory first workout Wednesday was reliever Brett Cecil, who is attending to a personal matter. He is expected to join the club by early next week at the latest. The left-handed Cecil struggled at times in the first season of a four-year, $30.5 million last year, particularly against left-handed hitters.

Early birds no more

The results of a sleep efficiency study the Cardinals conducted on their players last spring will alter their schedule this spring. Matheny revealed he's pushed the players mandatory report time back an hour this year, to 10:30 am, in an effort to improve their readiness and recovery time.

"As we went through our sleep trackers last year, we found our guys were getting less than seven good hours of sleep a night. That's just not enough for what we're asking them," Matheny said. "To get that information and not do something with it and not do something proactive, I think is a misuse of the information."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.

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