ATLANTA - For the second time in three months, a major league team is retiring Greg Maddux's number, leaving the Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher feeling humbled and a little confused.
How can his number be retired when he still feels like an active player?
'It's all still pretty new to me. I don't feel 100 percent retired yet, to be honest with you,' Maddux said this week. 'I just still feel like it's the offseason and still feel like I could go back and play again, but I know it's not going to happen. I guess I haven't really accepted it fully yet.'
Maddux and Ferguson Jenkins, who each wore No. 31 for the Cubs, shared the stage in May when the number was retired in Chicago.
The Atlanta Braves are next up, and will retire Maddux's No. 31 on Friday night before playing the New York Mets as they celebrate his 11 seasons in Atlanta, the most productive of his career. He will also be inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame.
Maddux said the time for such honors 'came pretty quick.'
'Last year at this time I was starting for the Padres,' he said. 'I ended up in the bullpen for the Dodgers and two months later I was throwing batting practice to a bunch of 12-year-olds.'
He said the family time has helped fill the void left by the end of his playing career.
'I am enjoying the time off and the time away,' he said. 'I do miss the game but I am enjoying my time off."
The 43-year-old said he may wear a uniform again, perhaps as a pitching coach.
'I have a lot of interest in that, but I just don't think I'm ready to do that right now,' he said. 'I'm enjoying watching my kids growing up. I'm enjoying catching up on what I missed the last 25 years playing.'
The Braves were coming off two straight World Series appearances when they signed Maddux before the 1993 season, turning a strong pitching staff into a dominant one.
Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz would combine to win seven NL Cy Young awards in an eight-year span as the Braves won 14 straight division titles and the 1995 World Series.
'I think all of us knew we were getting a good pitcher because he was coming off a Cy Young year, but I don't think any of us had any idea he was going to be as good as he was and he was going to have the kind of years he had while he was with us in Atlanta,' Glavine said this week.
'He made what was already a good pitching staff a great pitching staff.'