By Drew Olson Special to Published Jun 11, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Mike Maddux spent six seasons as Milwaukee's pitching coach, plying his trade in the bullpen, dugout, outfield, clubhouse, film room, cafeteria and everywhere else Brewers pitchers congregate at Miller Park.

Tonight, he gets to do some sightseeing at his former place of business.

"I'm going to see a side of the ballpark I've never seen before -- the visiting side," Maddux said Friday morning as he prepared to lead pitchers from his current club, the Texas Rangers, into an interleague series.

Outside of the initial weirdness in the service level -- and walking past the clubhouse he entered for six years -- Maddux wasn't expecting any problems, including the pull to help his former pitchers like Yovani Gallardo, Dave Bush, Doug Davis and Chris Capuano.

"We also see these guys in spring training," Maddux said. "You say ‘Hello.' you probably fraternize more in spring training. This will be a quick ‘Hello. How are you? I'm still rooting for you.'"

Maddux said he'd make a special point to seek out lefty Chris Capuano, who is recovering from his second elbow reconstruction.

"I want to make sure to congratulate Cap," he said. "It's been a long road back for him. I'm happy for him. He's reached his goal here. It's been a long road back. It's a resurrection at the major-league level."

While Brewers fans are watching a struggling pitching staff this season, the Rangers arrive in first place with a staff that improved under Maddux's guidance last year and continues to perform well.

Maddux is too modest -- or fearful of retribution from the baseball gods -- to take too much credit.

"I think it was just a matter of timing," he said. "The wheels were set in place before I arrived. The rangers were always notoriously a hitting ballclub. The stress was all on the hitting; they were just going to outscore you.

"When (manager) Ron Washington came over, he wanted to go with a more balanced approach to the game -- catch the ball, pitch the ball and score enough to win the game.

"When Nolan (Ryan) took over the presidency, you know where his heart lies -- we've got to pitch better. That's kind of the focus since I arrived. We play in a hitter's ballpark. The runs will be there. We've got to pitch."

Outside of Milwaukee, where some earned run averages resemble Swiss bank account numbers, folks in baseball are talking about the "year of the pitcher." Maddux doesn't mind that talk.

"I think it's a little cycle in the game," he said. "For one, there are some new ballparks in Minnesota and St. Louis -- those two in particular -- that aren't little bullrings like they built in Houston and Philly and Cincinnati. There are two new ballparks where you have somewhere to pitch.

"The other thing is that the game goes in cycles. They've been trying to generate so much offense since the ‘60s, when they lowered the mound, to the addition of the DH to the shrinking of the (strike) zone to QuesTec (the umpire evaluating system). It seemed like everything was programmed for the hitter. Now, I think there is a little cycle we're running through now where things are getting balanced out."

Asked about the performance of Washington phenom Stephen Strasburg, Maddux credited the rookie right-hander's college coach at San Diego State, Tony Gwynn.

"(Gwynn) saw what the kid has in him," Maddux said. "Strasburg kind of got a master's degree, when everybody else was getting their bachelor's."

Maddux spent part of his pre-game preparation Friday studying hitters like Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks that he used to see every day.

"I'm looking at them through a different lens this time," he said, chuckling.

The same is true of Rangers slugger Vladimir Guerrero, a 36-year-old free agent pickup who is having a monster first half.

"I'm gonna tell you what -- I played with him, that's how old he is now," Maddux said. "He was a young guy and he was impressive. The last 10 years, I've been watching him in a series at a time, getting 10 to 12 at-bats.

"My word. What a joke. He does things that you'll never see again, mostly on the good side. (He's had) just a Hall of Fame career, no doubt about it. He's even better than I thought. They put a graphic up the other day that ‘Vlad joins two other guys (Rod Carew and Tony Gwynn) to hit .300 for 12 consecutive seasons.' You take his power numbers and the fact that everybody is pitching him with their A-game because he's got the power and he hits fourth... he can buggy-whip it."

Some of the Rangers pitchers may be emulating Guerrero this weekend, when they make their first trip to Miller Park and begin a stretch of games in National League parks, where pitchers hit.

"Our pitchers are looking so forward to climbing in the box," Maddux said. "I just hope they don't get distracted with it."

Maddux said he enjoys the the American League game, which offers more of a "fasten your seatbelt" approach to pitching with "no charity outs" like sacrifice bunts.

"It's a fun league and it's easier to maintain your bullpen over there," he said. "You don't have to pinch-hit for guys. But, I'm looking forward to getting back to the National League side and that cat-and-mouse game and double-switching. I enjoy that."

During his days in Wisconsin, Maddux -- a scratch golfer -- enjoyed many of the state's acclaimed courses. This trip, however, might not allow a lot of swing time.

"Wisconsin has some great golf courses that are kept quiet," he said. "It's one of my passions, but I've traded my golf passion for fishing of late. I can go out and fish for an hour and still get something done. It's hard to golf in an hour."


Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.