One year later, Tracy keeps Rox rising

One year later, Tracy keeps Rox rising

DENVER -- Jim Tracy admits he never foresaw the success he has had as the manager of the Rockies since he took over a year ago.

But once he considers the personnel he's worked with and the opportunities placed before him, it comes as little surprise.

"I've had the good fortune and pleasure to manage some very special people now in nine years, but I've never managed a group of people like this group I've had going back to last year that has played as hard and as unselfishly as they've played," Tracy said. "Combine that with the talent we've had, the capability to do what we've done up until this point is there."

The Rockies were 18-28 under manager Clint Hurdle to start the 2009 season, and second baseman Clint Barmes said it was often uncomfortable in the clubhouse while the team was struggling.

"For Hurdle to be around as long as he has -- he was my first and only manager -- and to start the season with the pressure of knowing that if we don't play well, his job's on the line and then start the season as bad as we did, it's never easy," Barmes said.

But Tracy stepped in from his position as Rockies bench coach on May 29, 2009 (having managed the Dodgers from 2001-05 and the Pirates from 2006-07), and the Rockies immediately were on an upswing.

"When he took over at that point, there was a release of the pressure that was built up and everything going on," Barmes said. "Like, 'Is today going to be the day if we don't win?' and things like that."

Tracy led the Rockies to a 74-42 record in his time with the club last season and Colorado made the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. He was named National League Manager of the Year in 2009.

"He's very even keel," Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "When things are going bad, he knows how to say the right thing to put you in a good mood. When things are going good, he doesn't say, 'You're the best.' It's always, 'Continue to work and get better.'"

The Rockies' next win will be Tracy's 100th as Colorado manager. In his tenure, the club is 99-65 (.604). Only the Yankees have a better winning percentage in that span (105-59, .640).

"The most important thing for me is to go into that office every night and ask myself the question, 'Did I do the very best I could do to put my players in the best position to succeed?'" Tracy said. "I think that's always first and foremost in getting to the point to realize any point of success."

Joey Nowak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.