PHOENIX -- New Dodgers special advisor to baseball operations Greg Maddux showed up to camp on Wednesday, and the Hall of Famer plans to remain at Camelback Ranch for the remainder of spring training, working with various players whenever needed.
"The main thing is to try to help the players. You have to get to know them first, and have them get to know you," Maddux said. "Just watch the players, try to get the know them, then if there is something I can say or do that helps them on the field a little bit, that's the goal."
Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten, who was Braves president during Maddux's tenure in Atlanta, called Maddux this offseason to gauge his interest in managing. That conversation led to Maddux in February accepting this position as special advisor, basically identical to the roles he held with the Cubs in 2010 and with the Rangers from 2012-2015.
"I love the freedom of being part time, but at the same time I like being in baseball. Just trying to give back. I had a lot of coaches that helped me along the way," Maddux recalled. "You pick up bits and pieces, from my rookie ball coach to [Dodgers pitching coach] Rick Honeycutt, the last coach I had. They all mold you into the player you end up being."
Maddux said he originally planned to follow his son playing college baseball this year, but he decided to redshirt this season.
"This is a good opportunity to hook up with another team and see how it goes," Maddux said.
Maddux won 355 games and pitched 23 years in the big leagues, including in 2006 and 2008 with the Dodgers. He was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2014.
His status in the game is cemented, and like Sandy Koufax — another Dodgers special advisor and occasional spring visitor — his word carries a different weight than others. If players are willing to listen, that is.
"It's always better if they come to you, then you know that they want to listen. Sometimes if you throw something out there, nobody is listening," Maddux explained. "As a player if I needed something I went somewhere to try and get it. Usually when people threw it in my face it didn't stick as much.
"I'll probably just say the same thing all the other coaches have said to them for the last five years, but maybe say it a little different. The goal is to make the players better."
One player who is better since Maddux was last with the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw, who was a rookie in Maddux's final season, in 2008.
"You never think anybody's going to be that good. You knew he was good and he was going to pitch for a long time. He had an incredible fastball and good breaking stuff," Maddux recalled. "He's been able to turn into a winner. A lot of guys have the stuff or the makeup, but not everybody is a winner. He's been able to stay healthy, and win a lot."
Maddux through his age-27 season (1993) he had 115 wins, a 122 ERA+ in 1,709 innings, and two Cy Young Awards. Kershaw, who turns 28 on March 19, has 114 career wins, a 154 ERA+ in 1,611 innings, and three Cy Young Awards. Maddux would win two more Cy Young Awards, at ages 28 and 29.
Kershaw is a favorite to win his fourth in 2016, per Bet Online.
"He's the top of the game. He's the best pitcher in baseball. He sets a high standard for himself," Maddux said. "He's a tremendous person and a tremendous talent, and hopefully he'll go for as long as he can."