PITTSBURGH (AP) – Jim Tracy is moving from one of baseball’s biggest markets to one of its smallest, from a team that spends big and thinks big to one with more modest expectations following 13 consecutive losing seasons.

To Tracy, hired Tuesday as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager after five mostly successful seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s not the size of the city or the payroll that matters most but the available talent. And he sees the same kind of young talent in Pittsburgh that he saw in Los Angeles in 2001.

“Challenges are something that I like very, very much,” Tracy said. “I like hearing people say or maybe think that this is a situation you don’t have a chance to succeed in, I’m very challenged by that.”

Some might view the Pirates’ situation as hopeless following a 67-95 season, but Tracy sees players such as Jason Bay, pitchers Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Oliver Perez, center fielder Chris Duffy and second baseman Jose Castillo as being ready to win.

Real soon, too, once they learn the difference between what he calls “the teams that go out and play baseball and those that go out and play winning baseball.”

“I’m looking forward to spearheading this ballclub to back to some of the days when the Pittsburgh Pirates were somebody you really had to deal with,” said Tracy, who watched the Reds-Pirates rivalry while growing up near Cincinnati and playing college baseball at Marietta College, about 120 miles from Pittsburgh.

“I’m very anxious in making the players understand there is history here, history for them to be proud of and history for them to follow up on,” he said.

It hasn’t been recent history, with no winning seasons or championships since three consecutive NL East titles in 1990-92. Since then, the Pirates have floundered amid several failed rebuilding efforts, poor personnel decisions and an inability to compete against richer clubs for free agents.

But after years of promising a youth movement but not delivering one, the Pirates went young during the second half of this season by promoting players such as Duke (8-2, 1.81 ERA), Maholm (3-1, 2.18 ERA) and Duffy (.341 in 126 at-bats). They also have Bay, who followed up last year’s NL rookie of the year season by hitting .306 with 32 homers, 101 RBIs and 44 doubles, and Castillo, one of the majors’ top young infielders.

“I think the personnel’s here to get it done,” Tracy said. “I wouldn’t have been interested in this position if I didn’t feel very strongly that myself, and the coaching staff, that we can make a difference.”

General manager Dave Littlefield said Tracy’s ability to develop Dodgers players such as Adrian Beltre, Eric Gagne, Paul LoDuca and Cesar Izturis figured prominently in the decision to hire him. Littlefield and Tracy worked together in the Expos’ organization in the mid 1990s, and Tracy was considered the front runner from the start to succeed former Pirates manager Lloyd McClendon, who was fired Sept. 6 during his fifth consecutive losing season.

“He’s managed winning teams and winning teams in the playoffs,” Littlefield said of Tracy. “There are a lot of ingredients I think will make him successful here.”

Tracy was 427-383 and won the 2004 NL West title with the Dodgers despite a failed roster overhaul orchestrated by general manager Paul DePodesta that led to a 71-91 record this season. The two did not agree on numerous personnel decisions, including that to not bring back Beltre after he hit 48 homers and had 121 RBIs in 2004.

Tracy beat out the only other known candidates for the Pirates job, former Oakland Athletics manager Ken Macha and Atlanta Braves coach Fredi Gonzalez. Littlefield also wanted to interview former Pirates manager Jim Leyland, but he was hired by the Tigers last week before he could talk with the Pirates again.

Tracy, 49, was to have made $700,000 next year with the Dodgers but is expected to make more than that in Pittsburgh.

Tracy is expected to have free rein to hire his own coaches, as the Pirates coaches were told following the season finale on Oct. 2 they would not be brought back. Among those making the move might be pitching coach Jim Colborn and bench coach Jim Lett.

AP-ES-10-11-05 1720EDT

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