Maddux not thinking retirement just yet

Maddux not thinking retirement just yet

CHICAGO -- The last question that Greg Maddux expected to be asked after pitching a complete game for his 314th career victory was whether he thought that retirement was in his imminent future.

Maddux held the Cardinals to four runs on 12 hits in the Cubs' 11-4 victory on Thursday, and after the game was asked more about next year than the win.

"I want to play," Maddux said. "I'd love to play for another 10 years. [Retirement] is not something that is an issue right now. What is an issue right now is me getting ready for my next start against Houston."

The questions seemed out of context for a pitcher that just shut down the best team in the National League, but became an issue during manager Dusty Baker's pregame press conference.

Before the game, Baker alluded to the possibility Maddux would not return next season. The two had talked about the future but there was no indication Maddux would call it quits.

"I don't expect it to happen, but it's always a possibility," Baker said. "You get to a certain age, you can always say, 'Hey, man, I've had enough.'"

Maddux, 39, will likely decide this offseason between rounds of golf.

"You have to sit down and look in the mirror, and if you're good enough to play, you play, and if you're not, you quit," Maddux said. "It's that simple. I'm doing what I can to have a good year this year, and if I feel like I'm deserving enough to come back and play and wear a shirt with my name on the back, then believe me, I want to do it."

Maddux's 2006 option will be picked up if he totals at least 400 innings in 2004-05. It's worth $9 million. The inning total is within reach as Maddux has 369 1/3 innings.

Even if he did feel like the time was right to stop playing, wouldn't the money be a factor?

"No" Maddux said. "When you negotiate it's about the money, but you don't play the game for the money, at least not now. I've had my day when I've played for the money. Right now, believe it or not, I do like the game. I don't know if people know that or not, but I do like the game of baseball. I look forward to coming to the park on days I'm not pitching as well."

Right now, Maddux is focusing on the present, not the future. He didn't deny having conversations about next year with Baker. Maddux realizes that the time to leave the game is coming sooner than later, but said he wants to play for as long as possible.

"Well, I'm not getting any younger," Maddux said. "I really want to play out this year and finish out strong, and I want to come back and play next year. If I feel like I can play this game, obviously I'm not going to play it like I did 10, 15 years ago, but if I can play it and feel like I'm one of the best five guys we put in the rotation, then I'm looking forward to coming back."

With his performance on Thursday, it sure looks like Maddux is still one of the best. The hitters that had to face Maddux certainly thought so.

"He doesn't throw as hard as he used to throw when he started his career, but he's finding a way to get some guys out in front," Albert Pujols said. "He makes a good pitch to get out of a jam. That's the only way you can do it. You can't survive 17 years in this game throwing the same stuff. That guy is smart, and that's why he's a future Hall of Famer."

If Maddux has his way, the Hall of Fame can wait a bit longer.

Kelly Thesier is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.