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Jim Tracy pregame quotes
10/09/2004 7:48 PM ET
Q. Your team doesn't have a lot of big names but collectively it's shown a lot of comeback wins. Would you talk about that and the heart of your team.

JIM TRACY: I think it's obviously been the big signature thing about our club, is that, you know, we have done a great job all year of playing the game collectively, playing it the right way, evidenced by the fact of, as you just suggested, the number of comeback wins that we've had.

Dodger Stadium has become a very special place for us again. We've been a very good ballclub in our own park. Our fans have been tremendous to us and have been behind us all year long. They've seen some very dramatic things take place this year, especially in this ballpark.

But I think the only way that you can do some of the things that we've done this year is you have a mindset when you go out there that you're going to play the game for 27 outs, and that's something that we have done all year long, whether it's in this park or anybody else's.

Q. When we come back to play tomorrow's game, what do you expect out of Perez? What have you done on the side to correct some of his problems?

JIM TRACY: I hope that, first of all, very definitely we are back here tomorrow and Odalis has another chance to pitch against this club.

What I would be very hopeful of is that we see similar performances that we saw against the San Francisco Giants a couple of Fridays ago in their ballpark and the game that he pitched for us against the Colorado Rockies.

I think, you know, if you look at Odalis' performance the other day, I think it boils down to what we've seen a lot of in this series, and that is the fact that when you get two outs against this club, you're only two thirds of the way there in any one given inning. You have to put this team down for the third out.

Really what needs to take place to turn the tables a little bit on this series is our ability to do something with two outs and men on base offensively, and also our ability to shut down opportunities that they create for themselves offensively. That's been the difference and the key to this series and the reason why two games have finished up 8 3.

Q. Getting back to Perez, why have we seen him mopped around so much?

JIM TRACY: I think it more so boils down to starts he's had against this club, in particular. And you don't really you can go back even further to a couple of starts that he had against this club last year. I mean, if you look at his earned run average in the two starts that he had against them last year, they weren't very good.

And although the start on Tuesday I think really snowballed, you really have to wonder, you know. I think a lot of it from a thought process standpoint, pitches that he got guys out with the first time through the order, from what I was observing, I think that instead of staying with very solid sequence of pitches to specific hitters, the second time through he went immediately to areas that he had built into the first time through the lineup, and he got burnt.

I think the other thing, too, is when we ask for the inside turn in back to back sequences in the one inning, and we had the runner we had Renteria hung up between second and third, and then the ball got dropped. You have to wonder a little bit if that kind of helped to fuel the disruption of his thought process.

Q. Around the ballpark and city, people are excited and hopeful because it's "Lima Time". Can you talk about the feeling the club gets when Lima goes to the mound, whether that gives them any particular energy?

JIM TRACY: Is it "Lima Time" with the Southern Cal football game, too (laughter)?

Q. I believe it is.

JIM TRACY: He brings an energy to our team. He brings a demeanor to our club. It's evidenced by the way the guys play behind him.

I think that what's interesting about the two starting pitchers today is the tempo of both guys. They're fast workers. They like to get the ball and pitch. Our guys know that Jose is going to go out there and compete. He's going to throw strikes. He's going to do his very best to get the ball in play and give us a chance to field it. That's really been the key to his success all year long.

I think the other thing that's very interesting is what I was saying yesterday, that he loves to pitch in this park, and he loves it when he starts out well and these fans of ours get behind him. And I think 9 1 in Dodger Stadium is fairly indicative of that.

Q. How has Cesar developed into one of the National League's premiere shortstops? Has he closed the gap on Renteria? What did you see in him to put him in that leadoff spot?

JIM TRACY: I think he's been fairly elite as a defensive shortstop, although my opinion may appear to be biased. But I think he has really closed the gap from the standpoint of defense for a while now. I think he can make a strong statement for the fact that he is as good a shortstop as there is in our league.

The other thing about Cesar Izturis that has helped him from the standpoint offensively and hitting in the leadoff spot is his development as a left handed hitter. He was not a very good left handed hitter when he first started. There were some things that he had to work on. Obviously, the development of his right arm and the strength in his right arm, which was not the same as it was with his left, being a natural right handed hitter. But, you know, I think he was within six or seven hits of having 200 for the season.

His approach offensively is much better. He does a much better job of taking pitches. His idea of the strike zone is much better. All of those things are conducive. The fact that he's running and he's doing a much better job as a base stealer, all those things point towards the fact that you have developed yourselves a legitimate leadoff type guy that, in my opinion, as I said, also happens to be a Gold Glove caliber shortstop.

I think what we have to keep in mind is that a couple years ago when he first started here, he was 22 years old. And we can all remember back when we were 22 years old. I don't think any of us would suggest that we were a finished product by the time we were 22. And now at the ripe age of 24, he plays like he's been in the league for about eight to ten years already.

Q. Yesterday Jose Lima said if he's struggling at all, the bullpen better be ready. Are you planning to use the bullpen in any different way today because of that?

JIM TRACY: I hope I don't have to because if he's not doing well, then it won't be "Lima Time". But I think that one of the things that we have to do a better job of is to get deeper into the game from a starting pitching standpoint. We haven't finished five innings yet. We're playing the third game in the series today.

We are obviously a much better club if we can get deep enough into the game from a starting pitching standpoint and be able to implement our guys in the bullpen very similar to the way the St. Louis Cardinals utilize their bullpen.

If we get to a point in the game where we have to go once again to long relief at an early part of the game, you become vulnerable, and we know that. And so what I would like to see would be six or seven solid innings from him and the opportunity of having the likes of Alvarez, Venafro, Brazoban and Gagne to piece some outs together to get us where we want to go and hopefully come back here tomorrow and play Game 4.

Q. Will your finger be on the trigger at all, any more likely to make a change? Is this game any different?

JIM TRACY: I don't like to sit here and say that my finger will be on the trigger. It sounds like I'm a little bit defensive if I say that.

But I understand your question, and it's obvious that we can ill afford to allow the game to get away from us. And that being said, if we have to, we will. But as I was just mentioning a moment ago, it puts us in a position of vulnerabilities, I think, if we get into a spot where we've got to go to long relief again in the third or fourth inning.

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