Rox Manager Tracy is in charge

To say that there wasn't a lot going on at Rockies Spring Training Wednesday may be the understatement of the season. Sure, there was batting practice, even live batting practice with a real pitcher throwing real pitches, albeit in front of a screen. But, outside of a Carlos Gonzalez first pitch opposite field home run off Jeremy Guthrie, memorable moments were hard to come by.

Rockies manager Jim Tracy met with the media, which consisted of four writers, a television reporter, and me. Let's just say that Tracy is not dealing with very much media pressure and obviously this is not Yankees or Red Sox Spring Training. He was asked maybe five questions not including a few follow ups, none by me, and hardly said much of note.

"Nothing, nothing," he said when asked what he looks for in a pitcher to separate himself from the pack this time of year. 

"I said this last week, you have to create a forum to prepare your players to play so you're not out there walking around overanalyzing," Tracy said (last week too, I guess). 

"I'm sitting with every single player and wer're just having some nice dialogue about where they're at and what it is that we're interested in them getting better at. And it's not a laundry list because I'm a firm believer that information overload can really damage a player."

No kidding. I'm not sure who exactly Tracy thinks is accusing him of overanalyzing at any time of the season, let alone before the club has played it's first spring game. 

There was also a basket metaphor that had to do with players' strengths and weaknesses, but it was too long and likely not as entertaining out of context. 

The one interesting aspect of the media session with Tracy was his response to a question about possible changes to his structure. 

"I don't feel that way and I haven't felt that way since 2009," he said. "If you look at the type of spring we had last year and the start we got off to. Believe me, I'll go back to the drawing board with the best of them when the industry convinces me that that won't work."

The Rockies got off to a 17-8 start in April last year and the wheels completely came off as the club played .409 ball the rest of the way.  

"They need a forum to try these things and not be worried about the outcome," Tracy said. "It's about process and the process taking care of the resolve versus the other way around where you're completely result oriented. We saw how well that worked for us, that's not the answer. Structurally, no [there won't be a lot of changes in camp]. But, realizing this balance and that we had it ass backwards a year ago? Yes, we're addressing that."

If there was one encouraging thing that Tracy said Wednesday that was it. There just isn't a total sense of urgency around Tracy. That's been lifted by the "indefinite" lifetime contract extension General Manager Dan O'Dowd promised him before most of the players even got to camp. Like it or not, O'Dowd has left no doubt about who is the leader of this team. It's Jim Tracy. Now and forever. That he seems not only open, but active about tweaking the way he has run the team in the past is encouraging at the very least. 

Now, here's some choice quotes from my conversation with pitching coach Bob Apodaca:

  • On moves made in the offseason: "We improved in every move we made this offseason, not only offensively and defensively but in leadership and communication skills. We felt that every move that we made was a successful one."
  • On the team gelling this spring: "It takes time to get accustomed to communicate. It’s a learning process, learning about the players to get them to trust the coaches and trust their teammates. That’s something you have to earn. Respect will be given, but that trust you have to earn. That’s something that you develop. It’s like becoming friends, it takes time. That’s why Spring Training is six weeks long. Not only for the pitchers, but also for the development of chemistry."
  • On Casey Blake: "We should be several games better than last year because we got Casey Blake, who has destroyed us in the last three or four years. That was an excellent move. When I saw that, I was jumping for joy and I really had an urge to kiss him on the lips the first time I saw him."
  • Apodaca also said today that he expects LHP Jorge De La Rosa to return in July, contrary to the expectation that he could return as early as May. Patrick Saunders of the Denver post has the story

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