The Dodgers’ Greg Maddux was tabbed by Joe Torre for mop-up duty on Wednesday night. The 42-year old former Chicago Cub retired three batters in order in the ninth inning. It was a token appearance for Maddux, and only the seventh time coming out of the bullpen in his career.
Maddux, coming off of an 8-13 season split between San Diego and L.A., wasn’t assured a spot on the Dodgers’ postseason roster. As late as last Sunday, Torre said that there would be no room for sentimentality in the NLDS. He named his first three starters (Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda), but left Maddux hanging until the finalized roster was announced. “I’d rather pitch out of the bullpen than go home,” Maddux said at the time.
For Cubs fans, “Mad Dog” Maddux’s return to Wrigley Field was a bittersweet kick to the groin. With the game already out of reach, Torre gave the nod to the ex-Cub Cy Young winner to take the mound. It was a move that was more psychological than strategic; there was no save opportunity, just a chance to eat an inning and keep L.A.’s regular bullpen fresh for the rest of the series. If this was college football, Torre would have been penalized for taunting.
Maddux’s appearence at Wrigley Field may have been his last. After losing 13 games this season, it’s unclear whether he’ll make a bid to return in 2009 with the Dodgers or any other team for that matter. Maddux looked noticeably out of shape, as if he had spent the past few years on the West Coast eating cheeseburgers with David Wells. Cubs fans hope that his next appearance at Wrigley is as a Hall of Famer, and not as Joe Torre’s clean-up crew.