Notes: Tracy happy with Pirates

Notes: Tracy happy with Pirates

PHILADELPHIA -- Jim Tracy was on the speaker phone on Sunday morning from Cincinnati, his Pirates still winless but his spirit unbroken.

It's been six months since his five-year stint as Dodgers manager ended. He said he doesn't look back and sounds sincerely happy he's working for a general manager, Dave Littlefield, who he worked with years ago in Montreal.

"I've known him quite a while, and our thought processes are very similar," he said. "We're going to spearhead this in the proper direction. There definitely are similarities to the situation in L.A."

Tracy said he's excited about a young team with "high-ceiling" talent.

"There's no complete cure-all overnight," he said. "It didn't happen in L.A., and it won't happen here. You stay with the format and it can get to be very similar to L.A., where we are playing baseball in October."

Tracy said he found it "somewhat ironic" that his first home opener would be against the Dodgers.

"There are a lot of people there that we built special relationships with and it will be great to see those people and it will make it a bit tough," he said. "But with the first pitch will be the realization that we've got a game to win. We've got some catch-up to take care of. We'll have to put that behind us and move forward."

Lineup juggling: Grady Little, Tracy's replacement, said playing three games in roughly 24 hours required some rationing of assignments.

Jeff Kent started at second base in the first game on Sunday, but was to sit out the second game, with Ramon Martinez taking his place. Kent was to start Monday. J.D. Drew was set to play both games of the doubleheader, but not start Monday against left-hander Zach Duke. The same goes for with third baseman Bill Mueller and first baseman James Loney.

Cody Ross was to start in right field on Monday, with Martinez at third and Olmedo Saenz at first. In Sunday's second game, Ricky Ledee was to start in left field, with Jose Cruz moving to center field.

Odalis ready: Making the first start against Tracy's Pirates will be Odalis Perez, who has survived two regime changes to emerge as the longest-tenured current Dodgers player, with Eric Gagne and Cesar Izturis on the disabled list.

Perez came to the Dodgers before the 2002 season. Tracy took over a year earlier.

"We're in a different dugout now," Perez said of Tracy and coaches Jim Colborn, Jim Lett and John Shelby. "They were good for us. We spent so much time together, but now we're enemies. If you have to beat them, you beat them. Business is business. If my dad was coaching on the other side, I still want to beat him."

Perez said he had a bullpen session on Saturday and concentrated on improving his tempo, which he felt was the cause of his problems in his first start last week against Atlanta.

"My mechanics were better [Saturday] and the ball was moving good and the location was better," he said. "You have ups and downs. Anybody can have a bad game. I don't even think about it."

Doubleheader trivia: Sunday's doubleheader, caused by Saturday's rainout, is the Dodgers' first since Sept. 27, 2003.

Coming up: Perez will oppose Duke in the Pirates' home opener on Monday at 10:35 a.m. PT.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.