Reds’ Phillips wins first Gold Glove

Published 1:43 am Thursday, November 6, 2008

Age is no issue for Greg Maddux when it comes to fielding his position.

The 42-year-old pitcher won his record 18th Gold Glove on Wednesday while outfielder Shane Victorino of the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies was among five first-time winners in the National League.

Slick shortstop Jimmy Rollins joined Victorino from the Phillies, winning for the second consecutive season. The New York Mets also had two winners: outfielder Carlos Beltran and third baseman David Wright, both of whom repeated.

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‘‘Winning a Gold Glove is a tremendous honor for me in what was already an amazing season,’’ Victorino said. ‘‘I take a lot of pride in playing defense and to get the recognition of the managers and coaches around the league is a great compliment.’’

Other first-time honorees for defensive excellence were St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips and Pittsburgh outfielder Nate McLouth.

The Houston Astros, who committed 16 fewer errors than any other major league team, did not have a winner.

Rawlings has presented Gold Gloves annually since 1957. Managers and coaches vote on players in their own leagues before the regular season ends, but they may not select members of their own teams.

American League winners will be announced Thursday.

Pondering retirement after 355 wins, Maddux has been the NL recipient for pitchers every year since 1990 with the exception of 2003, when Mike Hampton interrupted the streak.

‘‘I can’t imagine winning two, much less 18,’’ Wright said. ‘‘But I think it goes to show you how much pride he takes in winning.’’

Last year with the Padres, Maddux snapped a tie with third baseman Brooks Robinson and pitcher Jim Kaat for the most Gold Gloves.

Maddux spent most of this season in San Diego before an Aug. 19 trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struggled in seven starts down the stretch for the NL West champions, going 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA to finish the year 8-13 with a 4.22 mark overall.

The four-time Cy Young Award winner may have lost a yard on that pinpoint, tailing fastball, but his reflexes are still quick as a cat’s on the mound. At 6 feet, 170 pounds, his simple windup has always left him in perfect fielding position after each pitch.

‘‘I’ve seen some balls hit pretty hard right back at him,’’ Wright said. ‘‘Those kind of reactions at 42, you just don’t see that.’’

Maddux worked four innings out of the bullpen during the playoffs and the Dodgers were eliminated by Philadelphia in the NL championship series. He filed for free agency after the World Series.

Victorino moved from right field to center this season to replace Aaron Rowand, a 2007 Gold Glove winner for Philadelphia before signing with the San Francisco Giants.

McLouth’s award capped a breakout season for the 25th-round draft pick in his first year as a full-time starter. A bright spot for the last-place Pirates, he showed off his strong arm in the July All-Star game at Yankee Stadium by throwing out a runner at the plate to keep the score tied in the 11th inning.

‘‘I am thrilled,’’ said McLouth, the first Pirates player to win a Gold Glove since shortstop Jay Bell in 1993. ‘‘I worked especially hard on my defense from the beginning of spring training and I’m glad all that work paid off with this award. The Pirates have a long list of past winners like Roberto Clemente, Bill Mazeroski, Tony Pena and Andy Van Slyke. I’m especially honored to be included on that list.’’

All three NL outfield Gold Gloves went to center fielders.

‘‘I take a lot of pride in being a complete player,’’ Beltran said. ‘‘Even on the days when I don’t get a hit, I feel I can make a difference in the field.’’

Phillips lost out to Arizona’s Orlando Hudson last season despite leading the NL in fielding percentage, which he did again this year.

‘‘I think this thing here is the best thing that ever happened to me,’’ Phillips said.

Winning the Gold Glove raises Phillips’ salary next season by $250,000 to $5 million. The award earns Beltran a $100,000 bonus, while Gonzalez, Maddux, Molina, Rollins and Wright get $50,000 bonuses.