DENVER -- Jim Tracy is a manager once again, just as he was in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh.
He is winning once again, too, just as he did ... well, in Los Angeles.
And yet, even as he took to Coors Field yesterday for batting practice under golden skies and an even sunnier 15-5 record since taking over the Colorado Rockies May 29, smiling wide and exchanging hugs and handshakes with those he knew from the Pirates, he could not help but express regret at how his two-year tenure in Pittsburgh ended with his firing in October 2007.
"There is disappointment for me in not being able to go further with the situation than we did," he said in an interview with the Post-Gazette. "But you know, there have been good people there, lots of them, and it hasn't happened."
He was asked why that is.
"I really believe it boils down to this: You need talent. You need talented players with an unselfish nature to get to where you want to go."
There were some of those during Tracy's time, as he acknowledged. But he also bemoaned the lack of depth at the time, in Pittsburgh and in the Pirates' system.
"There were some good players for me, and there still are some good players over there. But you also need somewhere to turn when you have players get bumps or bruises. Where could we go? That's a question that's been asked there for a number of years, and there never was an answer. It was very difficult just to keep the seas calm until you get people healthy. That's the biggest drawback there, and it has been for years."
Tracy commended the Pirates' new management, particularly general manager Neal Huntington, the man who fired him, for what he described as a newly aggressive approach to the draft.
"Looking at what they're trying to do with those two drafts, the talent they're adding," Tracy said. "If they're going to get to where they want to go, that's the most important thing. You'll see the difference that makes, when they get a Pedro Alvarez and some of those other players up north."
He singled out one who only recently arrived.
"The interesting thing about the Pirates' scenario is that it's beginning to look how I wanted it to look, with an Andrew McCutchen at the top of the order, and you have Nyjer Morgan right behind him, and some guys who can drive in runs in the middle once they get Ryan Doumit back. They're also working to get the pitching so that it makes sense from one day to the next. That's how you do it."
Any ill will?
"None," he replied. "There's a number of people in that organization and over in that dugout that I hold in the highest regard."
As for his current club, hottest in Major League Baseball, Tracy was characteristically effusive.
"We're a good baseball team," he said, pausing there for a wide smile. "And I think you're going to see that over the course of these three days. We have a lot of weapons, and our pitching staff is beginning to solidify itself."
Some in town are gearing up for a run to the playoffs despite Colorado being one game over .500. A Denver Post headline yesterday -- "Are we headed for Rocktober the sequel?" -- referenced the Rockies' amazing run to the 2007 World Series.
"We'll see," Tracy said. "We're a good baseball team."