Jim Tracy will be looking at some familiar faces when Pittsburgh meets the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday in the Pirates’ home opener at PNC Park.
Tracy, in his first year with Pittsburgh, spent five years with the Dodgers, leading them to the NL West title in 2004. But after some questionable personnel moves in the offseason, the Dodgers were just 71-91 last season, one of their worst records since relocating to Los Angeles in 1958.
After the season ended, the Dodgers allowed Tracy, who averaged better than 85 wins a season, to leave and fired general manager Paul DePodesta.
Tracy called that experience disappointing, but is looking forward to facing his old team.
“The home opener in Pittsburgh is always special,” he said. “When the team across the field is the one you managed, there’s a lot of irony in that.”
The Pirates (1-6) are coming off a tough opening week in which they lost their first six games before a 5-3 win Sunday over Cincinnati, avoiding the teams’ first 0-7 start in 51 years.
Despite the dismal record, Pittsburgh has been competitive, losing all six games by a combined 10 runs.
“We played well enough on this road trip to win some of those games,” Tracy said. “We still have to address some of those little things that kept us from winning, but we were right in every game.”
Zach Duke will try again for his first win of 2006. The 23-year-old left hander gave up just two runs on five hits over six innings on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to Milwaukee.
Duke threw 91 pitches—46 of them in the first two innings.
“I just couldn’t find my fastball release point early in the game,” he said. “I couldn’t get into a rhythm. I think I’ve got it under control now.”
Duke was a midseason call-up from Triple-A last season, going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in his first 14 major league starts. He finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
In his only career start against Los Angeles, Duke gave up four runs and 10 hits over 7 1-3 innings in a 9-4 win on Aug. 6.
Odalis Perez also will be looking for his first win when he takes the mound for the Dodgers (3-3). Perez allowed seven runs in three innings of the Dodgers’ 9-8 loss to the Braves on Wednesday as Los Angeles opened the season by allowing 24 runs in three games against Atlanta, winning only once.
“My mechanics were better (Saturday) and the ball was moving good and the location was better,” Perez said. “You have ups and downs. Anybody can have a bad game. I don’t even think about it.”
Perez lost both his starts last season against the Pirates, allowing seven runs and 11 hits in just eight inning combined. He is 1-4 lifetime in seven career appearances against the Pirates.
The Dodgers are coming of a double-header split Sunday against Philadelphia, handing the Phillies their first win of the season 6-3 on the opener taking the second game 6-2.
“I was very impressed with what took place today all over,” said manager Grady Little, who replaced Tracy in Los Angeles. “It takes a toll on you, but not really as bad if you lost both of these games.”