Cubs could host Maddux reunion
By GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com November 9, 2011 10:48PM
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux speaks to the media after his interview with the Cubs on Wednesday. He said he spoke to his brother, Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, about joining his staff. | Nam Y. Huh~AP
Updated: December 13, 2011 8:43AM
The Cubs could be in position to land two of the top pitching minds in baseball to run the team on the field if they succeed in hiring presumptive favorite Mike Maddux as their manager.
Call it a package deal, even if Maddux wouldn’t discuss it specifically Wednesday.
But after interviewing with the Cubs, Maddux acknowledged he and younger brother Greg had discussed the possibility of Greg joining the team as a coach if Mike gets the managing job — a powerful 1-2 punch with greater potential impact than any free-agent signing.
‘‘We talked about it, yeah,’’ Mike said. ‘‘Sure did.’’
‘‘That’s kind of a private family matter,’’ he said.
Given multiple chances to rule out a Maddux family reunion should he get the job, Mike didn’t.
‘‘It’s family stuff that we should probably keep to ourselves,’’ said Mike, who also said Greg was one of the first calls he made after he was asked to interview.
‘‘We talked about a lot of things,’’ said Mike, 50, who has become one of the top pitching coaches in the game over the last nine seasons, the last three with the Texas Rangers. ‘‘I think this was kind of a unique situation and the first time we talked about anything like this [managing]. He kind of gave me a little background about what was going on, the loop that he’s in. It was very, very helpful.’’
Helpful enough, it seems, for Mike to keep his hat in the ring for the Cubs job even after backing out of an interview for the Boston Red Sox vacancy because of family reasons, including the 1,500-mile distance between Boston and his home in Dallas. Mike declined to discuss that decision.
Greg, an original draft pick of the Cubs who spent two stretches on the North Side during a Hall of Fame career, spent last season as a special advisor to then-general manager Jim Hendry, a role he took in part because of a strong relationship with Hendry.
Cubs president Theo Epstein has reached out to Greg in an effort to get him to return, and they agreed to stay in touch.
Neither Epstein nor GM Jed Hoyer was available for comment after the third of four scheduled interviews. Philadelphia Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Milwaukee Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum also have interviewed. Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. is scheduled for Friday.
Greg has said more than once in recent years that he has no desire to return to an every-day role in baseball, in large part for family reasons. But one source close to him said that a chance to work with his brother could sway him to reconsider.
‘‘There’s a lot of dynamics to every decision we make,’’ Mike said. ‘‘And family not only extends to my wife and my daughters, but my brother and his family and my parents and everybody involved.’’
Certainly, a double dose of Maddux would go a long way toward the culture change Epstein talked about when he took over last month.
More than that, the promise of Greg in the clubhouse every day might provide the only feasible scenario in which the Cubs might reconcile their relationship with Carlos Zambrano for the final year of his contract.
Mike’s line of the day involved Zambrano.
‘‘How would I handle him?’’ he said. ‘‘I heard he’s a big teddy bear. I might pick him up and just burp him.’’
Mike’s family considerations might determine whether he’s the Cubs’ next manager. This summer concluded the Milwaukee-to-Dallas transition for his family, including two college-age daughters now in school in Texas.
‘‘That’s pretty special,’’ he said. ‘‘There does come a time you’ve got to stop and smell the roses, and it was a pretty big gut check for me this year, being with my family. We have a lot of things to think about, a lot of things to weigh.’’
NOTE: Ex-Cubs manager Mike Quade is on the Minnesota Twins’ list of candidates to replace Tom Nieto as their Class AAA manager, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. The list also includes former White Sox third-base coach Jeff Cox.