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updated: 11/9/2011 4:37 PM

Cubs interview Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux

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  • Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux speaks at a news conference following his interview for the manager position with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

      Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux speaks at a news conference following his interview for the manager position with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
    associated press

  • Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux smiles as he speaks at a news conference following his interview for the manager position with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

      Texas Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux smiles as he speaks at a news conference following his interview for the manager position with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
    associated press

 
Associated Press

One of Mike Maddux's first calls when he learned the Cubs were interested in talking to him about their managerial opening was to his brother, Greg. Just to get some updated information and a bit of background on the team that might want to hire him.

"It's kind of cool to be considered," Maddux said Wednesday after interviewing with president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, scouting/player development head Jason McLeod and assistant GM Randy Bush.

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"I enjoyed it, man. Pretty neat. Something I've never done before, so it was a learning experience on both ends," Maddux said. "I think I got to know them and they got to know me, see what our values are. We share a lot of values, share passion. We share the inner drive to win."

Maddux, the pitching coach of the two-time defending AL champion Texas Rangers, is the third person to officially interview for the position created when Epstein fired Mike Quade last week.

The Cubs have also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. Cleveland Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., will have his turn Friday.

Maddux flashed a sense of humor during a meeting with reporters. Especially when asked how he would handle the moody, one-time ace Carlos Zambrano, who was suspended for 30 days last season when he cleaned out his locker and threatened to retire shortly after giving up five homers in a game against the Braves.

"First thing you got to do is get to meet him. I heard he's a big teddy bear," Maddux said. "I might pick him up and just burp him."

Turning more serious, Maddux said several years ago he considered Zambrano to be the best pitcher in the National League with his work on the mound, in the field and at the plate, where he is a respectable hitter. "I've seen him dominate," Maddux said.

Zambrano, who is pitching winter ball, has a year left on his five-year, $91.5 million contract signed in 2007, and it's still not known if the Cubs will bring him back.

As pitching coach for the Rangers, Maddux played a key role in back-to-back World Series appearances for Texas.

The Rangers had an American League-high 5.37 ERA in 2008, the year before Maddux arrived. They have improved each year since, including a 3.79 ERA this season that was their lowest since 1983.

Maddux's ability to get the most out of the Rangers' staff -- even after the loss of Cliff Lee from the 2010 AL championship team -- is certainly appealing to Epstein.

"Maybe it's a message, maybe it's giving guys the opportunity to perform, maybe giving them an opportunity to fail," Maddux said. `Maybe that's it, too. You don't put the weight of the world on your shoulders. You encourage guys. It's not life or death. It's win or lose, but it's not life or death. And keep it that way."

In 15 major league seasons, Mike Maddux pitched for Philadelphia (1986-89), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1990, 1999), San Diego (1991-92), the New York Mets (1993-94), Pittsburgh (1995), Boston (1995-96), Seattle (1997), Montreal (1998-99) and Houston (2000).

He became pitching coach of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003, then took the same job with Texas before the 2009 season and has helped the Rangers win back-to-back pennants.

The name Maddux will always resonate around Wrigley Field.

Greg Maddux's departure from the Cubs as a free agent after winning the first of his four straight Cy Young awards in 1992 is still considered one of the worst episodes in the franchise's long history of futility.

Maddux went on to star with the Braves and establish himself as one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. He returned to the Cubs in 2004 and before he was traded to the Dodgers in 2006, he got his 300th win with Chicago. He retired with 355 victories and is a shoo-in Hall of Famer when he's eligible.

Mike Maddux wouldn't go into detail but said he discussed with his brother the possibility of coaching, should he get the job. Greg Maddux was an assistant to former Cubs GM Jim Hendry and is one of the most respected pitching minds in the game.

"We talked about it, yeah. Sure did," Mike Maddux said.

Mike Maddux withdrew his name from consideration for the Red Sox's managerial opening, citing family considerations brought on by the distance between Boston and Dallas.

He didn't want to talk about the Boston situation Wednesday, but did say that family matters are a huge consideration, especially since he and his daughters and wife are together now in Dallas. The family had been apart at times while he was the pitching coach of the Brewers.

"It's pretty special. There does come a time when you have to stop and smell the roses," he said.

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