Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 3/8/12
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The coach leans on a fungo bat, standing to the side of where the Texas Rangers are stretching on a recent spring morning. He's out of the spotlight, just like always. Dozens of cameras focus on Yu Darvish, the pitching phenom from Japan, documenting every stretch and warm-up throw. Ditto for Josh Hamilton, the slugger whose difficult offseason has many wondering what his Rangers future will look like. And somehow, Greg Maddux surefire Hall of Famer, one of the finest pitchers of his generation, and now a special assistant with the Rangers goes unnoticed. In his warm-up jacket and sunglasses, he looks like the least imposing guy on the field. Even an autograph hound looks past him. Yet Maddux's role with the Rangers this spring ought not go unnoticed. The cerebral pitcher will be working with his brother, Rangers' pitching coach Mike Maddux, and sharing with younger pitchers the knowledge gained from a 23-year big league career that saw him win 355 games and four Cy Young awards. "My hope is they understand that I'm just passing down the experiences that I've had," Maddux told FOXSports.com recently. "Where I excel is philosophy, pitch selection, what hitters can and can't do. I'll kind of stick to those things and try to help them out with what it's like to be on a mound. "I understand the anxiety and the tension between pitches, between hitters. I understand the butterflies. I understand the nerves and how the nerves lead to making bad decisions and just try to help them with things like that." This time of year, baseball legends like Maddux are scattered all over Arizona and Florida, stepping down from their rarefied Hall-of-Fame air to help youngsters develop. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda are fixtures at the San Francisco Giants facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. Ditto for Reggie Jackson at the New York Yankees facility in Tampa, Fla. George Brett can be found hopping between practice fields, overseeing catchers working on throwing form and pitchers taking grounders, at the Kansas City Royals camp in Surprise, Ariz. Joe Morgan helps young Cincinnati Reds at their facility in Goodyear, Ariz. And Kenny Rogers can be found at Tigertown in Lakeland, Fla.; the man with one of the best left-handed pickoff moves in big-league history is coaching pickoff moves and fielding to pitchers. At the Minnesota Twins' facility in Ft. Myers, Fla., Hall of Famer Paul Molitor joins Hall of Famer Rod Carew in working with young ballplayers. Molitor's in his ninth season as the roving minor-league baserunning and infield coordinator for the Twins, and he calls spring training an annual ritual. "You always hear about teachers and coaches their reward is in the fruition of their labor with their pupils," Molitor said. "Having some of these guys in this (major league) clubhouse now for a number of years, seeing them apply some of the things you've tried to mentor them (on) and be successful, that's where your reward lies." Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who along with Maddux is utilizing the tutelage of owner Nolan Ryan and former All-Star shortstop Tony Fernandez, said his belief in the influence of special instructors has grown over time. "When I got the job (after the '05 season), we didn't have the network to tap into," Daniels said. "Having Nolan (Ryan) certainly helped, and expanding it honestly, people want to be involved with us now. You've got to gradually build the program, when it's the right time to take the next step. On the player development side for us, this is a critical couple years. To be able to have Tony (Fernandez) and Greg Maddux, those are valuable resources." In Surprise, Maddux is having fun. His brother whizzes by on a golf cart, then doubles back and picks him up, and the two ride to one of the practice fields together. "It's awesome, man, just a plethora of knowledge," Mike Maddux said of working with his brother. "Guys respond. Guys respect him. They all got his bubble-gum cards, too. They got his on the shelf and mine in the spokes." Rangers lefty starting pitcher Matt Harrison, who grew up as a Braves fan in North Carolina and often studied Maddux, is working on his two-seam fastball with Maddux. He's struggled at consistently throwing the two-seamer to the glove side. The big thing, Maddux told him, was that he can't aim the pitch or it would always end up in the dirt. And he helped Harrison work on the direction of his hip when he throws the pitch. "It's amazing, the knowledge he has about the game, of being able to read people's swings," Harrison told FOXSports.com. "I'd love to be able to do that one day. I just go off what I feel rather than what I see. I guess that's why he won so many games. He wasn't a powerful pitcher, threw 85 or 90 at the most, but he was able to locate his pitches, and see what a guy wasn't able to hit." You can follow Reid Forgrave on Twitter @reidforgrave, become a fan on Facebook or email him at reidforgrave@gmail.com. FOXSports.com baseball writer Jon Morosi contributed to this story.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving ate the Celtics’ heart during the second half of Game 4

NFL to reportedly bring back fun touchdown celebrations

Mike Trout explains why he doesn’t look at advanced stats

Reds’ Joey Votto shuts down heckler with “I remember when you used to be thin”

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Padres offering $99 ticket plan for five June wins or 16 June games – whatever happens first

Former Jets WR Devin Smith found out he was cut via Twitter

Roger Goodell tweets ‘Key & Peele’ joke about relaxed celebration rules

Martavis Bryant: ‘I know this is my last chance’

Glennon: ‘This is my year and I’m not worried about the future’

Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker