"Excuse me?" Howell asked, "Do you know, will the coaches be coming back next year?"
"I hope we all do, yes," the manager replied, breaking through the laughter in his office.
While the joke played off well, the question wasn't so out of bounds. Kevin Towers, named the club's general manager on Wednesday afternoon, told USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he hoped to hire former Cy Young Award winning pitcher Greg Maddux as either his pitching coach or bench coach. It became apparent on Thursday that it will not happen.
Maddux will resume his post as special assistant to Cubs GM Jim Hendry next season and has expressed no formal interest in returning to the dugout in a coaching capacity.
"[Towers' comments] didn't bother me because I knew what Greg was going to do," Hendry said. "I don't blame anybody for wanting Greg Maddux."
The Hall of Famer-to-be aids Chicago in scouting, player evaluation and instruction.
"He could probably do any job in the game that he chooses to down the road," Hendry said. "He made the commitment to his family to work this way. When he wants to come back, if he wants to be in uniform, I'll always try to accommodate him."