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Jim Tracy Hoping Rockies Are Ready To Take Next Big Step Forward In 2011

The Colorado Rockies were a solid ballclub in 2010. They won 83 games and at one point in the summer looked poised to give the San Francisco Giants a run for their money in the NL West standings. Ultimately the Rockies fell short of qualifying for the postseason due to a late-season skid. But all signs point to Colorado being right back in the mix in what should be a very competitive NL West.

Tracy joined 104.3 The Fan in Denver just days before the Colorado Rockies begin the new season to talk about his personal health and what he believes his squad is capable of accomplishing in 2011.

What have you learned about your team this spring training? Every year it’s something different, but what is it this year?

“Well what I’ve learned is that the message I think we have sent since day one of spring training they’ve heard it loud and clear. I think when you go back and look at this club going back to 2007. You know since 2007 we’ve gone from being a club that’s been to the World Series, we’ve had two…we’ve had a National League Championship, a Wild Card Championship. We’ve had winning seasons three out of our last four years. Quite possibly with a couple of these situations we’ve been talking about you guys could have been back in the post-season last year.

I think the message is this, I challenged them with this, we know how to be good. We certainly do. We were a successful ball club in the playoff race deep in September last year with 833 days to the disabled list. We did a pretty good job of juggling balls and staying competitive. We got step up performances when we lost the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, 4/5th’s of our rotation at one time or another, Huston Street for the first 11 weeks of the season, Rafael Betancourt really not being himself. We know how to be good. I’ve challenged this team to be great. The way you become great is you do a lot of the things we’ve been doing since late May of 2009, but all these little things that the four of us are talking about. You need to take as much pride in that as you do hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning knowing you’re telling the industry this is not only a very talented team, this is a very intelligent team, that knows how to win close games and is very, very, good at doing it.

That’s been the challenge here since day one because one thing that has really jumped out at me at you guys and I think our pitching staff has recognizes this and I think it’s very, very, important to have that happen is keep the ball, get after the hitters, attack the hitters, get the ball in play and keep it off the big part…the sweet part of the barrel of the bat and we’ll make plays for you. If you can do that efficiently from a starting pitchers standpoint you minimize the number of pitches you’re going to throw. You stay in the game much longer. You make your bullpen much stronger because you’re not asking them to get ten or twelve outs every night. We ran into that problem early in the season last year. A lot of things come into play here, but as I just mentioned all of these things we’ve talked about since day one, this is what it takes to be a good team and make a great team because what took place this winter with the likes of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez and down the road and Ubaldo Jimenez…what a foundation we have not only in place right now, but a foundation to build from for the next several years. You know the anticipation here is and should be that we have a chance to be a good club here for several years in a row and that’s exactly what we’ve striven to do. I think we’re successfully accomplishing it.”

(Transcription via: SportsRadioInterviews)