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Maddux makes it look easy in debut

Maddux makes it look easy in debut

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For what it's worth -- and, honestly, it might not be a whole lot at this point -- Greg Maddux managed Tuesday to do the one thing no Padres starting pitcher has done thus far.

He threw a scoreless inning.

Better still, the 41-year-old Maddux tossed two scoreless innings altogether and needed 18 pitches to dispense with the San Francisco Giants in a Cactus League game, a game the Padres went on to win, 9-6.

Maddux, who has won 347 career games, threw 16 strikes in an outing that didn't look much like those of the Padres starters who have gone before him: Randy Wolf, Shawn Estes, Jake Peavy and Chris Young.

Those pitchers allowed a combined 11 earned runs over 5 2/3 innings in their starts this spring, with Wolf and Estes each recording just two outs in reaching their 30-pitch limit before getting out of the first inning.

The first few starts of spring are more about getting acclimated to facing live hitters than simply results, which means the Padres have few, if any concerns, about ERAs during the first week or so for any of their starting pitchers.

Getting acclimated never looked so easy for Maddux, though.

Watching Maddux against the Giants, you would have been hard-pressed to wonder if it was March or July the way his ball was moving in the strike zone and how he was able to get hitters to jump on pitches early in the count.

"He's been at this for a while," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He's got such a great feel for pitching and his mechanics. And because of the way he throws the ball and his mechanics, it allows him to get in sync maybe quicker than a lot of guys."

But the funny thing about the start to Maddux's 23rd Major League season was that, despite the favorable results, the right-hander felt like he was wild and that he wasn't able to hit all the spots that he wanted to.

Maddux got three ground balls, all to the right side, in the first inning and then allowed his first fly ball, off the bat of Aaron Rowand, that Paul McAnulty chased down. After Rich Aurilia grounded out, Maddux got Eliezer Alfonzo to fly out to deep left field.

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"It felt a little wild," he said. "I know it doesn't look like it, but I was trying to go down and away, stuff like that. I was wild in the strike zone instead of out. I thought that I was up against righties a little bit. Today, they hit a few pretty good fly balls.

"I didn't pitch as well as I would have liked. I got away with a couple."

But it sure beat the monotony of going through drills and pitching off a mound, a stale environment, albeit it a necessary one, to get ready for actual games. And even though this was a spring game, Maddux felt different Tuesday morning.

"You wake up and you know you're pitching and you kind of do things a little different at the ballpark," Maddux said. "It's good to start to get into the routine of pitching instead of PFPs [pitchers' fielding practice] and bunting in the cage."

Maddux, like the other Padres starters, was allotted 30 pitches Tuesday, but needed only the 18. He was given the option of throwing 12 more pitches in the bullpen but opted to pass. Instead, he'll look forward to his next start in five days.

"You keep building arm strength and attempt to get a little more mechanically sound. When you haven't been on a mound since -- for me it was Milwaukee [last September]. That was a pretty long time to go without being on a mound with a catcher and umpire," Maddux said.

"It's getting back to thinking baseball. ... It's not easy to think about pitching in games unless you're doing it."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }