|Maddux starts home opener for Padres, followed by Wells|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 05 April 2007 20:30|
Greg Maddux and David Wells, who have a combined 39 seasons of big league experience and 563 victories, are scheduled to start the first two games of the San Diego Padres' weekend series against the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park.
Maddux, who turns 41 on April 14, gets the home opener on Friday night, when the Padres will hoist a banner commemorating their 2006 NL West title. Wells, who turns 44 on May 20, gets the call for his hometown team the following night.
If it seems like they've been around forever, well, in baseball terms, they have.
Maddux's first big league start was on Sept. 7, 1986, a win over the Cincinnati Reds and their player-manager, Pete Rose. Wells made his big league debut the following June, as a reliever with Toronto.
Neither is ready for retirement, although Wells toyed with the idea after the Padres were eliminated from the playoffs by the eventual World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals.
``It's absolutely exciting,'' Maddux said of drawing the home-opening assignment. ``I'm looking forward to it. I'm already getting goose bumps.''
At this stage in his Hall of Fame-caliber career, there's not much that stirs butterflies for Maddux, including his season debut and even though he's wearing another new uniform.
``I would say yeah, but I had two of them last year,'' Maddux said. ``I've been around a lot lately. It's probably not as big as it was when I went from Chicago to Atlanta.''
San Diego is Maddux's third team in less than a year. He was traded from the Cubs to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31.
He signed a $10 million contract with the Padres in December.
``The organization is great, first class all the way,'' Maddux said. ``There are good guys and a great team. I really think we're going to be good this year.''
His combined 15 victories and 210 innings last year would have led the Padres, who barely held off the Dodgers to win their second straight NL West title.
``He's a good pitcher,'' Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. ``Have you looked a the back of his bubble gum card? He's awesome. I think the question for any player with a veteran status that Greg has is, 'What's left?'
``Last year he was able to go to the Dodgers and gave them a shot in the arm and pitched some competitive games. It's never an easy task facing Maddux. He's a pro. A real good pro,'' Hurdle said.
Maddux is 333-203 with a 3.07 ERA. He won four straight Cy Young Awards in the 1990s and a World Series title with Atlanta. He won his record-tying 16th Gold Glove last year.
Maddux fits in well with a team that's trying to win three straight division titles for the first time in franchise history.
``I've been very comfortable since day one here,'' Maddux said. ``The guys have all been great to deal with. They've treated me better than I've deserved to be treated.''
New manager Bud Black is glad the rotation set up so Maddux starts the home opener.
``Everything I've heard about Greg since he signed with us has been so positive,'' Black said Thursday night before the Padres finished a three-game series at San Francisco.
``It'll be exciting because it's at home but it probably will be a different feeling than I felt here Tuesday,'' said Black, who was hired after Bruce Bochy accepted a three-year deal to manage the Giants.
AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley and Josh Dubow in San Francisco, and Pat Graham in Denver contributed to this report.