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Notes: Maddux ready for Wrigley return

Notes: Maddux ready for Wrigley return

CHICAGO -- Greg Maddux's Hall of Fame career has been built on simplicity. Throw strikes, start every five days and pick up wins. It's his formula for success and like his mechanics, it hasn't changed much since he first came up in the Reagan days.

"I just worry about my next start and prepare the four days in between," Maddux said about his 21st year in the Majors.

Maddux returned to Wrigley Field for the second time since his second tour of duty with the Cubs ended last season with a deadline trade to the Dodgers. He didn't get to pitch when he came back last September, but he will start the final game of the two-game set on Tuesday afternoon.

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"It's always a little bit more special to pitch here, but hopefully it's just one of 35 starts," he said. "But some places you like pitching more than others, this is one of them. ... I'll always be a Cubs fan. I hope they lose the next two days, but still ..."

Maddux is 10th on the all-time wins list with a 334-204 record -- nine wins shy of ninth place. He won 133 games in nine-plus seasons with the Cubs, first coming up as a fresh-faced rookie in 1986. After coming back to Chicago in 2004, he went 38-37, but he did go 5-0 last April before tailing off. He was a fan favorite in the Friendly Confines.

"I don't know what to expect [from the fans]," he said. "Hopefully, I expect to be 0-1 and go from there."

Maddux is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in his two starts this season, pitching six shutout innings in a 4-0 win over San Francisco on April 11. He struck out six and walked one four days after turning 41.

"I feel better, actually," he said, comparing this year with the last few seasons. "I don't throw hard enough to hurt anymore."

Like a Zen Buddhist, Maddux lives in the moment. The gray-flecked "professor" said he's not ready to think about coaching, or retiring, just yet. His new manager wants to have Maddux around for the duration of his two-year deal.

"I knew we had something the first day of Spring Training, when the pitching coach and I asked him if there's anything he needs, as far as doing what he's done in the past, to get into shape, whether it's a different throwing program or whatever," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He goes, 'No. I want to do whatever the other guys doing.' For a guy who has been where's been to come to a new team and do whatever program we have set up. ... He said what's good enough for them is good enough for me. It was awesome."

Lineup shuffle: Geoff Blum started in the place of Khalil Greene at shortstop for the first time this season on Monday. The switch-hitting Blum is 1-for-9 with an RBI with his other start coming at third.

Jose Cruz Jr. moved over from left to center in the place of Mike Cameron, and Terrmel Sledge started in left. Both Green (.229) and Cameron (.156) are off to slow starts, but that's not why they didn't start, Black said.

"Geoff is going to be a big part of this club," Black said. "I wanted to give Greenie a day off after a long flight. Geoff's a good player, bottom line. You've got to make sure you use all 25 guys the best you can. I know it's early in the year, but it just seemed like a good time to give Khalil a day off and Mike Cameron a day off as well."

Blum hit second, pushing Brian Giles to third. Sledge hit sixth with Cruz hitting eighth.

Bullish on 'pen: After three scoreless innings on Sunday night, Kevin Cameron was the only reliever off-limits, Black said.

"K-Cam will be down and [Doug] Brocail will only be used in an emergency," he said. "Everyone else should be fine."

Cameron is perfect through his first eight innings through four games, with eight strikeouts. He entered in the third on Sunday in relief of starter Chris Young and got out of the bases-loaded, no-out jam.

"Kevin did a great job last night," Black said.

The bullpen's scoreless mark, a modern-day record, ended on Friday at 29 1/3 innings. Coming into Monday's game, the relievers had compiled a 1.93 ERA while holding batters to a .186 average.

News and notes: Lost amid Sunday's Jackie Robinson Day celebration, and the Padres' 9-3 loss, was Cruz's 200th career homer. Now in his 11th season in the Majors, Cruz is one of six active switch-hitters with 200 homers. ... Despite their .241 average coming into Monday's game, the Padres had connected on 12 homers. ... Black held court with reporters in the visitor's dugout, enjoying a short return to Wrigley. He hadn't been to the park in uniform since 1994, his penultimate season in the Majors. "I love this park," he said. "When we got here, I got a phone call and just sat in the stands and looked out. This is a special place, one of my favorite parks in all of baseball. It's in my top three probably." The others? "You got to throw Fenway Park in there and Yankee Stadium. I'm old-school."

Coming up: Maddux (1-1, 3.18 ERA) tries to improve on his 67-54 record at Wrigley Field on Tuesday, going against Wade Miller (0-1, 13.50) at 1:20 p.m. CT. Maddux has struck out 10 with just one walk in 11 1/3 innings this season. Not one to fear the cold, Maddux is 52-27 lifetime in April.

Jon Greenberg is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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