Third time's the charm for Maddux, Pads
After pursuing pitching star twice before, Friars get their man
SAN DIEGO -- While it certainly is a cliché, both Kevin Towers and Greg Maddux acknowledged that the third time was the charm.
Twice before, the Padres had pursued the four-time Cy Young Award-winning Maddux in free agency without success.
However, the Padres changed that on Wednesday when they introduced a signed, sealed and delivered Maddux to the media at a press conference at PETCO Park.
Maddux, 40, who passed his physical Wednesday, signed a one-year contract, reportedly at $10 million with a mutual option for 2008, which would be worth $6 million to $10 million depending on how the future Hall of Famer performs in 2007.
Maddux, an eight-time All-Star right-hander, has won 333 games with the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Following the 2006 campaign, which he split with the Cubs and Dodgers, Maddux was honored with his 16th Rawlings Gold Glove Award, tying Jim Kaat for the most Gold Gloves won by a pitcher or any other fielder.
"I guess you could say the third time is a charm," said Towers, the Padres' general manager and vice president. "The other two times he was a free agent, we came up kind of empty-handed in our pursuit of Greg Maddux. But this is a great day in San Diego to be able to bring this caliber of pitcher to our market and this division."
"I'm looking very much forward to playing down here and looking forward to living down here," said Maddux, who has a home in nearby Dana Point, but lives in Las Vegas. "I really do love the game of baseball. I'm looking forward to playing it and watching it as well. As starting pitchers, we watch a lot of games, too.
"I've always loved San Diego. I've tried to come here a few times, but it never worked out. I guess the third time is the charm. I wanted to make it as easy as I can on my family and still have a chance to win, and I felt this was a perfect place for me."
Added Towers: "He's a proven winner, a four-time Cy Young Award winner, one of the greatest fielding pitchers in the game. He's pitched in some of the biggest games that have ever been. The intangibles he brings you'll find hard to match.
"In the clubhouse, he'll be great for our young pitchers like Jake Peavy, Chris Young and Clay Hensley. We are much better today than we were yesterday having Greg Maddux in a Padres uniform."
Maddux was asked about hurling at pitcher-friendly PETCO Park.
"It will definitely help at times," said Maddux, "but you still have to pitch and go out there and pitch well. I think it has more to do with how you pitch, not really where you pitch.
"I know last year I felt as good as I've ever felt. I do like the game. I do like the competition. I like wearing a Major League shirt [he wore No. 37 Wednesday]. I like the atmosphere and everything about it. I'm not ready to give it up. I feel like as long as I can locate my fastball and change speeds, I have a chance to keep pitching for a long time."
The 21-year veteran, who turns 41 in April, was the 22nd pitcher in Major League history to reach the 300-win plateau, and he currently ranks 10th all-time with his 333 wins. Maddux's 3,169 strikeouts rank 12th on the all-time list and third among active hurlers (Roger Clemens, 4,604, and Randy Johnson, 4,544).
He also places second among active pitchers with 4,616 1/3 innings (Clemens, 4,817 2/3).
New Padres manager Bud Black, who was also on hand for the press conference, offered his views on Maddux.
"The last week or so, I have taken some phone calls from guys who have played with Greg over the years," Black said, "and they say we're getting a guy who is only going to make my job easier, improve our club and have an impact -- not only on the mound, but in the clubhouse as well.
"Greg and I talked in the clubhouse after his physical today and talked about how we crossed paths pitching against each other at Candlestick Park. Just talking with him I sensed that we're going to have a great relationship about talking baseball, which I know he is all about, not only from a pitching end, but from a hitting end as well."
Remaining in the National League was one of Maddux's main concerns.
"I'm a National League guy," Maddux said. "I've never played in the American League except for Interleague, and I like to hit and I like to face the pitcher."
Maddux said he had discussions with only one other club.
"For me personally it looked like I was wanted a lot more down here [in San Diego] than up there [in Los Angeles], which made it easier for me to make a decision," he said.
Maddux remembered coming to San Diego for the 1998 playoffs.
"I remember the atmosphere being the best I've ever been in," recalled Maddux. "We came out a half-hour before game time to check things out. Hopefully we'll get a chance to experience that again next October."
Maddux is very familiar with the postseason, having played in it 12 times, including nine consecutive years with the Braves from 1995-2003. He helped Atlanta secure three World Series berths, winning the championship in 1995.
In 32 career playoff games, Maddux is 11-14 with a 3.34 ERA, including a 2.08 ERA in five World Series starts.
Sandy Burgin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.