Tracy learning to make adjustments

SAN JOSE, CA - Chad Tracy has been a consistent force in the Bakersfield lineup over the last two months, batting .299 with 17 doubles and seven homers in that span. Lone Star Dugout recently spoke with the prospect about his improvement at the plate.

Chad Tracy has steadily climbed the Rangers' organizational ladder since being selected in the third round of the 2006 MLB Draft. After spending his first two seasons with short-season Spokane and Single-A Clinton, the Pepperdine product has moved on to High-A Bakersfield. In 97 games this season, Tracy has batted .273 with 33 doubles, eight home runs and 59 runs batted in.

"Everything is positive," said Tracy of his season with the Blaze. "I've been working really hard offensively with our hitting coach, Brant Brown. I've made a lot of adjustments as opposed to last year. Overall it has been good and I'm really happy with our team."

Tracy's inability to make the required adjustments last season became evident down the stretch. After a strong start that included a trip to the Midwest League All-Star Game, the prospect stumbled late in the year, batting just .217 in the second half.

The adjustments appear to be paying off in 2008, as the 23-year-old is improving as the year progresses. Tracy posted a disappointing .246 average in the season's first two months, but he has hit .299 with 17 doubles and seven home runs in June and July. The left fielder believes the adjustments have been the key to his progression.

"The adjustments we've made in the cage as far as staying through the ball," explained Tracy when asked about his progress. "I have a tendency sometimes, I'll come off the ball too quickly and hit some ground balls to the left side.

"I've been having good length to my swing, using the whole field, and giving myself a chance to do something instead of pulling off the ball."

Tracy has always been regarded as an advanced hitter, but he has bounced around in the field since being drafted. The Rangers originally drafted Tracy as a catcher, but he was moved to the outfield in 2007, playing 91 games between left and right field with Single-A Clinton.

After working primarily as a corner outfielder, it looked as if Tracy's days as a full-time catcher had come to an end. But Tracy says he caught full-time in spring training each of the last two years.

"I was catching every day pretty much up until the last week [of spring training]," he said. "That's pretty much how it was last year in spring training too. I was catching pretty much every day. The thing about the Rangers is that we have such a strong catching corps throughout the system, not just here in Bakersfield."

Tracy wasn't working as a full-time catcher in spring training for no reason. He believes the Rangers planned on having him behind the plate before some last-second decisions forced him back into the outfield.

"Originally, I was going to catch," said Tracy. "Manny [Pina] is still very young, but they decided he was ready to go and come here. I played left field last year for 80-some games, so making the switch and jumping back into the outfield, that's no big deal. I took a lot of reps out there last year, but the gear is always there if I need it."

In 97 total games this season, Tracy has spent 46 at DH, 44 in the outfield, and seven behind the plate. The 6-foot-3 right-hander expects to continue playing the role of emergency catcher for as long as he's playing baseball.

"I don't think I'll ever completely stop," he said. "At least this year, I won't be catching every day any time soon, but they like me to have the gear out there. I've caught seven games this year and maybe I'll get a couple more before the year is out.

Referencing a recent game in which he started behind the plate, Tracy says it doesn't matter where he plays as long as he's helping the team.

"It's really just something for our team," replied Tracy. "Pina was down with a bad shoulder and Graddy [Chris Gradoville] had caught five in a row, so I caught one in between. I'm just a guy that's there and perfectly capable of catching a good game if they need it. If not, I'll go out and play left field, DH, or whatever I need to do."

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