The old movie line says that there’s no crying in baseball.
There’s no nepotism in baseball, either.
Chad Tracy knew last season that he’d have to post the best numbers of his already significantly good minor league career if he was going to be called up from Class AAA Colorado Springs to the big league club in Colorado.
The manager of the Rockies at the time was his father, Jim.
“I was told (by the organization) from the very beginning that whatever I had in my head that I thought I needed to do to get to the big leagues, that I was probably going to have to do more,” Chad Tracy said. “But I knew that going in. You don’t want people wondering why this is happening. I knew I’d have to excel in order to have an opportunity, and obviously that didn’t work out.”
Tracy is playing this season with the Omaha Storm Chasers, who return to Werner Park for a four-game series with Memphis that starts Saturday night at 7:05.
Tracy, who had 26 homers and 107 RBIs for Class AA Frisco in 2009 and had a 28-homer, 109-RBI season for Class AAA Round Rock in 2011, got off to a miserable start in 2012 and never got that big league call-up.
Though he rallied to finish with a .269 average and drove in 82 runs, the home run power never came — he finished with 12.
“It was frustrating,” Tracy said. “But when you look at where I was at the end of the first half — it was terrible, I was really struggling (hitting .205 in late May and with just 16 RBIs), and then you look at where I ended up … I was proud of that.
“I was able to put up respectable numbers and have a respectable season. But then you kick yourself and ask, ‘What if I wouldn’t have been hitting .200 in June? What could it have been like?’”
Tracy had come to the Rockies organization in a trade with Texas, the organization that selected him in the third round of the 2006 draft out of Pepperdine.
During big league spring training, he got to play for his father.
“It was fun,” Tracy said. “It was different. There was an awkwardness to it at first, but after about a week I got comfortable having him around, and the guys there were great, too. They welcomed me. Nobody made a big deal about it.”
And no, Tracy said, there weren’t any disgruntled Colorado Springs players complaining about the big league club’s manager once the season started.
Jim Tracy, who has also managed the Dodgers and Pirates and served as a big league hitting coach, is sitting out this season.
That has given him a chance to see his son play a four-game series in Colorado Springs — Jim still lives in Denver — and plans are in the works for him to see another four-game series, too.
“I’d be hard-pressed to think of a year where he’s seen eight games,” Tracy said. “I can think of a couple where he saw one.”
One of Chad’s brothers, Mark, is a Chicago White Sox minor leaguer, who also gets to play in front of his dad a little more often this summer. That didn’t happen much while the kids were growing up in Florida.
But don’t feel bad for them, Chad said while smiling.
“He missed out on a lot of Little League games,” Tracy said. “But my brother and I would make all-star teams, and we’d skip that to go up to Canada (where Jim was a Montreal coach) and spend time with him.
“It was a good tradeoff. He didn’t get to see us play, but we got to go hang out in big league parks in the summertime. So … we dealt with it.”
Always a productive minor leaguer, no Pacific Coast League player drove in more runs than the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Tracy the previous two seasons.
“I go into every season thinking my job is to knock runs in,” Tracy said. “A benchmark is to knock in 100, and you feel like you’re doing your job if you do that.”
Omaha manager Mike Jirschele said the right-handed hitter likely had a difficult season last year.
“I’m sure it was tough for him, knowing that he’d probably have to put up huge numbers to get a call,” Jirschele said.
But Tracy, 27, said he didn’t feel any extra pressure to produce last year.
“I played the year like any other year,” he said. “It just didn’t work out.”
Tracy — not to be confused with the Washington Nationals corner infielder with the same name — signed with the Kansas City organization as a minor league free agent in the offseason.
In 29 games this season, he’s hitting .226 with three homers and 14 RBIs, and he’s still in pursuit of his first big league call-up.
“He’s a guy who knows how to play the game,” Jirschele said. “Offense is his strong suit. He puts up good numbers year after year.”
Tracy opened the season on the disabled list with a calf injury, and since being activated April 15 he’s played semi-regularly as Jirschele tries to juggle Xavier Nady, Max Ramirez and Tracy through the first base and designated hitter positions. Nady sometimes plays left field, and Ramirez will occasionally catch.
“To find my name in there more often is great,” Tracy said. “And when it’s in there, you want to produce and show people that this (producing) is what I should be doing.”
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