Dodgers manager Jim Tracy chatted with fans before the game against the Angels on Friday. He discussed injuries, lineup moves and the bullpen with fans, as well as who he thinks poses the biggest threat to LA in the National League West.
rwdblue: Can you give an update on Jayson Werth's rehab?
Jim Tracy: He is progressing. We have been encouraged over the past few days with the progress he is making offensively. He's gotten some hits as of late, including three last night, and we've heard less of him talking about pain and/or discomfort than he had been experiencing earlier. We are continuing to keep an eye on it, and we're hopeful that in the not too distant future, we'll be talking about the possibility of activating him.
jfanaselle: With the injury to Jose Valentin, what is your plan for third base? Do you plan to start Antonio Perez there (when he's reactivated) or are you confident in the skills of Oscar Robles and Mike Edwards?
Tracy: We've been very encouraged by the contribution that we've gotten from Edwards in the short time that he's been there. Robles enhances our versatility in the middle of the field and affords us chances to utilize him at any one of the three infield positions. Perez is also a guy that you're going to see play some third base because we have to find some things out. We have to find where it is that we stand there, due to the injury that we sustained to Jose Valentin. By creating opportunities for these guys to play, it will help us to make better judgements as to the needs that you possibly have as you get on further into the season.
mike92882: When will Edwin Jackson be called back to the Majors, and what role will he play when he is?
Tracy: The important thing right now, as far as Jackson is concerned, is that we get him to a point where he is realizing consistency from one start to the next on a regular basis. We have not reached that yet. With that being said, there has not been a whole lot of talk of late in him returning to this level. We're concerned about getting him to the point where he has a much better understanding of what he needs to do from one at-bat to the next, against whoever the opponent is. That is more on our radar screen right now than worrying about when he'll be back here and what role he will serve once he does.
wewillwinthewest: Good afternoon Mr. Tracy! Who has been the biggest surprise of the season so far?
Tracy: Good afternoon to you, too. I would have to say that right now, you could not be more pleased with the performance that we have gotten to this point from Cesar Izturis, Jeff Kent and Milton Bradley. They have been three mainstays in our lineup offensively. I have been completely satisfied with the production we have gotten from first base between the tandem of Hee-Seop Choi and Olmedo Saenz. Also, the tandem of Ricky Ledee and Jason Repko in left field has not been disappointing at all in the absence of Jayson Werth, one of four huge pieces that we started our season without.
mike92882: What's your game plan on beating the Angels this series?
Tracy: We're hopeful that we will get some continued starting pitching throughout the course of the weekend and our continued opportunities to score runs. With those two things, and the opportunity to use my bullpen the way I'd like to implement it, we'd get a very good barometer as to what your expectation level should be of these guys. Not from just one short segment of the season, where it hasn't been too good as of late, but the overall six months of the season, which is of much more importance. The other thing is limiting the Angels to as few baserunners as possible. It is a big key due to their aggressiveness on the bases and the speed that they have throughout the lineup. If they have too many runners on base over the weekend and are creating a lot of opportunities situationally, offensively, that could present problems for us. We must slow them down offensively.
Jake_Norton: With both Yhency Brazoban and Eric Gagne in the bullpen, do you foresee ever using one of them (like Brazoban) in more creative ways, such as getting out of a mid-game jam situation? Then you still have Gagne for the ninth?
Tracy: That is a possibility as we go along. I think what also is important right now is that, with the return of Gagne, Brazoban has been moved to a different part of the game already. We don't want to juggle him around too much, too quickly and create uncertainty in his mind as to exactly the area of the game that he must be prepared for. As we get deeper into the season and you get to crunch time, the possibility of Brazoban coming in to put down an inning is one that you would consider. But, at this early juncture in the season, having moved him once already, we need to take some time to allow him to settle into his role.
dreaminofjayson28: I just want to say that I think you are doing a great job and thank you.
Tracy: Thank you very much. I appreciate your support, as I have greatly appreciated the support of the fans of Los Angeles during the course of my 4 1/2 years as manager of the club.
jfanaselle: Milton Bradley has mentioned in the past that you're like a father to him. How have you two developed such a great working relationship after he came over to the Dodgers as the man a manager could love to hate?
Tracy: Honesty and trust are two very important words in developing a positive relationship with anyone. The fact of letting go of what has taken place in the past and starting anew and having Milton feel completely at ease with that's the way it is. After having to deal with a couple of incidents, he feels like he was supported and people trusted in the fact that he realized that a couple of mistakes were made and was earnestly interested in doing something about it. For him to come back and play with the intensity he has played -- an All-Star caliber performance to this point -- how can you turn your head rather than accept the challenge of helping someone become who they want to become and who you think they're capable of being?
pesh1103: How do you feel about Scott Erickson's contributions to starting pitching?
Tracy: His performance thus far has had its ups and downs. I think the other thing that you have to keep in mind is the irregularity in which he has worked with a number of days off in between starts. You take that into consideration. He's had some very good starts, most recently his start Sunday against the Braves. Rather than focus on one guy, we need to look at the situation as a whole here of late and that collectively, we have not pitched very well.
jfanaselle: All of the work invested in Hee-Seop Choi is definitely beginning to pay off offensively. How do you plan to work on, or how are you already attempting to smooth out his mechanical defense?
Tracy: That has been a daily process with him and Tim Wallach in an attempt to increase his aggressiveness at the plate, but temper that with him and maintain the understanding he has of the strikezone. He has worked very hard and is continuing to make great strides in the direction we want to see him go offensively. We're hopeful to maybe see him extend himself to the point that he can face left-handers at some point in time, but with the contribution we continue to get from Olmedo Saenz, we need to continue that because it's helped us win baseball games. Defensively, there are ongoing efforts to make him aware of the fact that his footwork is something that he needs to improve upon. Not so much around the bag, but the activity level of his feet when balls are in play and he's playing at either double-play depth or his normal position at first base.
wewillwinthewest: Do you have any clubhouse rules ?
Tracy: I don't overwhelm my players with rules, but I have a few things that I don't ask, I expect. For five years, we've never had a problem with that. If you look at the success we've had, it's become a very neat place for people to come to.
Brad_Arnsmeier: Do you have any superstitions with regard to baseball?
Tracy: I don't believe in superstition. They're bad luck (that was actually Jim Colborn, who just walked into my office).
Base_Ball_2: As a ballplayer yourself, who did you idolize growing up during or before your playing days?
Tracy: Pete Rose was somebody that I watched very closely having grown up in the Cincinnati area. Willie Mays was somebody that I always loved to watch play. I have a tremendous appreciation for players who play the game with intensity and their performance suggests that there is a respect for the game from day to day and year to year throughout the course of a career. I have the utmost respect for those type of players. It may not be the player with the most God-given ability, but you could say he's a winner and more times than not, finds himself on winning teams because the people within the industry recognize that fact also.
56b56: What do you know about Willy Aybar? Is he going to be a good third baseman? What's his game and when will he be ready?
Tracy: Aybar is working very hard to continue to improve himself not only as a third baseman, but also as a second baseman. His offense continues to get better and he's at Triple-A. The consistency of his performance has gotten better and better. We really don't have any type of time table as far as when he would arrive at the Major League level because I think it's very important to feel comfortable, as decision makers, that you feel like you've given the player ample opportunity to fulfill his development.
mike92882: What has been your most memorable moment as the Dodgers skipper?
Tracy: Oct. 2, 2004. When we began in 2001, one of the dreams that we had in managing in this organization was to get it back to the point where it had realized a championship of some sort under my tenure. However, it's not the final hurdle that I'm looking forward to going over as the manager of this team. What we left short was a National League championship and an opportunity to play in the World Series.
Brad_Arnsmeier: As the season goes on, who do you perceive as the greatest competition in the NL West and why?
Tracy: I think the San Diego Padres are a team that is going to be around for the majority of the season. The Arizona Diamondbacks have made vast improvements from a year ago. They have improved offensively, they have improved defensively which has helped bring Brandon Webb back to his success as a rookie and is going to help enhance their team. I really feel that it could virtually end up being a three- to four-team race throughout much of the season.
Tracy: We've got to go prepare for tonight's game, but thank you all for taking part in this. I enjoyed it quite a bit and look forward to seeing you all at Dodger Stadium this season.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.