PEORIA, Ariz. -- It was last December, in his hometown of Las Vegas, when pitcher Greg Maddux officially announced his retirement at the Winter Meetings.

spring training
cactus league
grapefruit league

But it wasn't until Wednesday, when the 42-year-old arrived at Spring Training in Peoria as a part-time instructor, that Maddux really considered his 23-year Major League career to be finished.

"For me, I feel like my first day of retirement really started today. The last three months -- Christmas time, New Year's -- have always been the same. I'm sure next week when I'm driving back home is when it will really kick in," Maddux said.

Maddux's first day as a Spring Training instructor saw him in full uniform, standing in the shadows of the same bullpen he was throwing in a year ago at this time.

Did Maddux miss it, the competition, being a player? Not so much, the 355-game winner said.

"I'm kind of actually glad I'm not out there running around ... getting my legs all sore," said Maddux. "As a player, your legs really hurt the first week of Spring Training. I know that it's early, but I think as a coach, your back gets a little sore from standing around all day."

Maddux said going back to last season he envisioned himself still being involved in the game, though maybe not this quickly.

"I love baseball," said Maddux. "It's what I've always done. It's really all I know. I knew it was time to stop playing a couple years ago. I know I probably want to get into coaching, somehow, someway later. This happened a little quick.

"I'm down here tying to get a taste of it and see what the coaches do before the workouts and after the workouts and to just get an idea of the time and preparation that goes into putting together an hour-and-a-half workout. There's a lot that goes into it."

San Diego manager Bud Black said Maddux's role is largely "undefined," though he'll work with players, as well as possibly shadow general manager Kevin Towers and his staff in the first of what is expected to be three trips, each lasting about a week.

"I can sort of relate it to when I retired in 1995, I went to camp with Cleveland [in 1996]. I went to camp and just observed," Black said. "I was part of Spring Training on the coaching side, then I picked the brains of [front-office executives] Dan O'Dowd, John Hart and Mark Shapiro."

Maddux pitched the entire 2007 season with the Padres, going 14-11 with a 4.14 ERA. He spent part of last season with San Diego, going 6-9 with a 3.99 ERA before the team traded him to the Dodgers in August for two Minor League players.

Maddux went 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA in seven starts with the Dodgers following the trade.

Maddux, who had a similar offer from the Cubs to be an instructor during Spring Training, opted to return to San Diego partly because of the relationships he formed with Black, pitching coach Darren Balsley and his teammates.

"I think that had a lot to do with it. I have a lot of respect for Balsley and Buddy ... and I enjoyed being around those guys," Maddux said.

Rookie pitcher Josh Geer was recalled from Triple-A Portland in September, so he missed Maddux by a month. But he's looking forward to bending the future Hall of Famer's ear in the spring for any tips, advice or observations.

"It's awesome. We're very fortunate to have him here," Geer said. "Me being a young guy, I feel I can ask him anything. He's a veteran who has been through it all, a Hall of Famer, I'm sure he can teach us a lot."