|Tracy will work with young Phillies' hitters (02-14-13)|
|Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 14 February 2013 09:43|
Andy Tracy showed his hitting prowess at an early age on the youth baseball fields in Bowling Green.
He continued to display that talent at Bowling Green High School and Bowling Green State University, and through 16 seasons of professional baseball.
Now. Tracy, 39, is getting the opportunity to pass along his knowledge of hitting to the players in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system.
Tracy, who managed the Phillies' short-season Class A Williamsport (Pa.) team in 2012, was elevated to minor league hitting coordinator for the organization in December.
''It's a step up the ladder and there are a lot more challenges,'' Tracy said in a telephone interview last week. ''I'm really looking forward to it. I've always been a hitter at heart.
''I really loved managing. But I'm really looking forward to being around the (batting cage) once again, getting with guys and talking about hitting and finding a way to put them in a position to be successful.''
Tracy was working in the instructional league, which was basically an audition for the new position, in Florida when he was offered the new job.
He said he had a dilemma when the Phillies first approached him after making the change, but looks at it as a promotion.
''It's a pretty big step, but (player development director) Joe Jordan was real adamant about his ability to grow in that spot. He pushed him pretty hard," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said when Tracy was promoted to the coordinator's position.
''Joe Jordan showed a lot of confidence in me and all I can do is give it my best effort and see what happens,'' Tracy said.
Tracy played 149 Major League games over five seasons with Montreal, Colorado and Philadelphia, hitting .231 with 13 homers and 43 RBI in 277 at-bats. He was with the Phillies in 2008 when they won the World Series.
During his extensive minor league career, he hit .268 with 296 homers and 1,064 RBI.
Since being hired as the hitting coordinator, Tracy has been in the Dominican Republic and Florida over the winter, working with hitters. He's currently helping with the hitters at the Phillies' spring training camp in Clearwater, Fla.
Later this month, he'll move to the minor league complex to work with upwards of 80 to 85 hitters.
"You have to organize them, you hit them in their groups, set up early work," Tracy said. "You try to get everyone even at-bats so we can get a good look at everybody before decisions are made whether they are going to affiliates or just outright releases."
Once the minor league season starts, Tracy will be on the road, spending five days with each affiliate working with that team's hitting coach and also the hitters.
"I don't think the travel will bother me that much,'' Tracy said. ''I'm looking forward to working with these kids.''
Tracy said having patience will be a big key to working with young players.
"You can let them talk to you about things and not just shove stuff down their throats,'' Tracy said. ''The worst thing you can do (as a hitter) is stand in the (batter's) box and not be confident. The best thing is you can stand wherever you want and feel like you can hit, and you can usually find a hit.''
One thing Tracy likes about his current job is that he will be able to be see his family in Columbus for several days every month during the season.
"That's something that I've never been able to do, so that's nice,'' Tracy said abut the in-season family time.
Tracy emphasized he's ready for the new challenge.
''When you're managing, you worry about 30 guys. Now, I have to worry about 100 guys from Venezuela all the way up to (Class) AAA,'' Tracy added. "I have a lot of people's careers to worry about. You have to make sure they can get enough work to maximize their abilities.
''I'm still around the game of baseball which I love.''
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