Maddux stays unruffled as milestone draws near
The four-time Cy Young Award winner will go for his 300th win today.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Greg Maddux appeared relaxed all week, as if the major milestone he's about to add to his impeccable resume was just a distant thought.
At Coors Field, the humble and focused right-hander stopped to socialize with the clubhouse attendants and casually chatted up his Chicago teammates, seemingly his calm self even as he's about to make history.
"I'm trying," Maddux said with a smile Thursday. "What are you going to do? I guess I could worry and panic about it, but I'm not going to."
This afternoon, the four-time Cy Young Award winner will try for the second time to get his 300th career victory when the Cubs face San Francisco.
The Giants recalled right-hander Brad Hennessey from Triple-A Fresno on Friday to make his major league debut against Maddux.
"He's always said that as long as he stays healthy, it's going to happen one time or another," said Giants ace Jason Schmidt, Maddux's former teammate in Atlanta. "Everybody makes a big deal about all these milestones. Every time you pitch it's a milestone to get the win."
Well, this one will certainly mean a little more for Maddux.
The 38-year-old Maddux, 299-170 and a winner of 13 straight NL Gold Glove awards, would become the 22nd major league pitcher to reach 300 victories and the first in the National League since Philadelphia's Steve Carlton in 1983.
"It's a good opportunity, and we've just got to be ready," Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa said.
Roger Clemens was the last to accomplish the feat, reaching 300 on his fourth try on June 13 last year.
Maddux missed his first chance last Sunday when he left after six innings with the Cubs trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2.
There will be plenty of hype this time around -- the game has been sold out for months.
"It's going to be a good one, boy," said Cubs manager Dusty Baker, who's returning to the Bay area to face his former team for just the second time since taking over the Cubs after the 2002 season.
All of Maddux's teammates are rooting for him to get it over with -- they know that's what Maddux wants. He's a star pitcher who would rather have the team in the spotlight than himself.
"He's going for his 300th and you'd never know it," starter Kerry Wood said. "He doesn't want the attention of it."
Maddux has a major league-record 16 straight seasons with 15 or more wins -- the last 11 with Atlanta.
He was picked by the Cubs in the second round of the 1984 amateur draft, then signed with the Braves as a free agent in 1992. He returned to his baseball roots when he signed with the Cubs as a free agent in February.
Giants center fielder Marquis Grissom, also a former teammate with Maddux on the Braves, considers him one of the best pitchers he's faced.
"He's kept himself in great shape and he's still able to win 15 games year after year," Grissom said. "That wasn't unexpected. Three hundred, that's pretty impressive. And he still has plenty left. I expect him to reach a whole bunch of milestones.
"Playing with him and watching his work habits and mind-set, when he comes to the ballpark, he doesn't joke around. I've never seen a more serious guy when he's working. There's no shortcut. There's just one way, and that's the right way."
In Maddux's only other outing against San Francisco this season, he allowed three earned runs and nine hits and struck out seven but failed to get a decision in the 5-3 loss May 20 at Wrigley Field.
Maddux will be ready this time.
He is 23-14 in 42 career starts against the Giants with five complete games.
"This guy studies," Baker said. "He might get hit, but it's not because of lack of doing his homework. He studies hitters, he studies managers, he studies me. He's an honor student. Plus, he's very humble in how he is. He's sincere in his humility.
"I believe him when he says it's not about him, it's about the team."