'I'm very surprised, to be honest'
July 31: Greg Maddux is disappointed to be leaving Chicago but looking forward to playing with the Dodgers.
CHICAGO - Greg Maddux came back to the Cubs and got his 300th win and 3,000th strikeout.
He couldn’t get them to the postseason.
Now he’s leaving again, traded Monday to the Dodgers for infielder Cesar Izturis in a move that will give the 40-year-old pitcher a chance to return to the playoffs. Chicago will pay $2 million to Los Angeles as part of the deal.
“I am very surprised to be honest with you. It came down to the last minute. I’m excited to be going to L.A., but at the same time sad about leaving Chicago. I need to try to get right with my new team and try to pitch well for them,” Maddux said after shaking hands in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
Maddux, who has a career record of 327-200, waived his no-trade clause to go to the Dodgers, who are in last place in the NL West, but just five games out of first.
“I was willing to waive that if the Cubs wanted to try to get better for next year,” Maddux said.
Maddux broke in with the Cubs in 1986, left as a free agent after the 1992 season when he won the first of four straight NL Cy Young Awards and then spent 11 seasons with the Atlanta Braves before returning to the Cubs with a three-year, $24 million deal in 2004.
“I started with them and I thought I was going to end with them,” Maddux said, adding that now he’ll be closer to his Las Vegas home. “I look forward to going out West, a lot closer to home and maybe seeing some of my family during the season.”
Maddux started the season 5-0 in April, but has won only four games since. He is 9-11 with a 4.69 ERA in 22 starts.
He came to Chicago with hopes that he would be part of a strong pitching staff that included Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Carlos Zambrano. But after the Cubs were within five outs of the World Series in 2003, they missed the wild card the next season as Wood and Prior began a three-year battle against injuries.
Maddux was 16-11 in 2004, marking his 17th straight season of at least 15 wins. But he was 13-15 a year ago, his first losing season since 1987.
And this season is lost. The Cubs were 18 games under .500 entering play Monday.
“When we brought him here in 2004 we certainly thought we were going to win and win big with him,” Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. “I feel badly for him it didn’t work out the way we wrote the script. But you know down the road, I’ll always feel one of the best things I ever did was bring Greg back to Chicago.”
Maddux was a big hit in the clubhouse with a wry sense of humor and a keen ability to break down the game, especially pitching. He served as a tutor to some of the young pitchers in the Cubs’ clubhouse, especially rookie Sean Marshall.
“It’s not every day you get to catch a Hall of Famer, a guy with 300-plus wins,” Chicago catcher Michael Barrett said.
“I think he’s still got a lot of great innings ahead of him. I think it’s a good move for him, he gets to go to a playoff-contending team. He’s going to have an impact there. We’ll always feel the impact he made here.”
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