The Los Angeles Dodgers bolstered an already-impressive front office earlier this month by hiring Raul Ibañez and Greg Maddux as special assistants to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.
In their respective roles, Ibañez and Maddux assist in all aspects of baseball operations, including scouting, player development and working with the club’s players, both at the Major and Minor League levels.
Maddux arrived at Camelback Ranch on Wednesday for his first Spring Training appearance in a Dodgers uniform.
He walked the backfields as Brett Anderson, Kenley Jansen and Clayton Kershaw were among the pitchers throwing their scheduled bullpen sessions.
Maddux also took time to speak with media, during which heaped praise on Kershaw and called the Dodgers’ ace the best pitcher in baseball, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“He’s top of the game, he’s THE best pitcher in baseball. He sets a high standard for himself. He’s been able to turn into a winner. A lot of guys have the stuff and makeup, but not everybody is a winner. He’s able to win and stay healthy.”
Kershaw, who will turn 28 years old on March 19, is entering his ninth season with the Dodgers. He’s 114-56 with a 2.43 ERA, 2.62 FIP, 1.03 WHIP and career average of 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings.
The five-time All-Star has won three National League Cy Young Awards, and in 2014 became the first NL pitcher to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season since Bob Gibson in 1968.
Kershaw got off to what was a deemed a slow start last season by his standards. However, he finished the year 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and led the Majors in several advanced metrics.
Chief among them were, FIP (1.99), xFIP (2.09), SIERA (2.24), strikeout percentage (33.8 percent) and strikeout-to-walk ratio (29.1 percent). Kershaw also led the Majors with 232.2 innings pitched and compiled the first 300-strikeout season since 2002.
His 301 strikeouts were 25 more than second-place Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals. Maddux won four Cy Young Awards and was an eight-time All-Star over his 23-year career, which included time spent with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008.