Chad Tracy’s job as the Los Angeles Angels’ field coordinator takes him to different ballparks throughout the season.
Usually, the perspective he gets while watching the Angels’ affiliates is from a distance.
But Tracy also likes getting back in the dugout to manage, which he did last weekend with the Burlington Bees.
Tracy, filling in while Jack Howell took vacation time after the Midwest League All-Star break, managed the Bees for the four-game series against the Kane County Cougars.
Tracy was back in his old office — he managed the Bees in 2015 before spending two seasons as manager of the Angels’ High-A team at Inland Empire.
“I’m around these kids so much, whether it’s in spring training or (instructional league),” Tracy said. “It’s nice to get to engage with them, lead them, go through the work and be in charge of that. It’s enjoyable.
“It’s a different kind of level (managing the team). When you’re here as a coordinator, you’re more an evaluator, sit back and watch. You come in in this role, you can get your hands dirty again and get out there among them.”
What Tracy saw is what he figured out from evaluating them in person earlier in the season as well as keeping track of the Bees’ games online.
Asked what he learned from the weekend, Tracy said, “Nothing that I didn’t already know. They’re hard workers. They seek you out to work. They’re not afraid to work. Their chemistry, their locker-room presence, is awesome. And they don’t quit. And that’s nothing I didn’t know from afar.”
Tracy praised the clubhouse culture that Howell and the Bees’ coaching staff has created.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s one of the best in the system.”
The Bees lost three of the four games against the Cougars, but all four games were close. Kane County won Thursday’s game, 2-1, on a ninth-inning home run after the Cougars had broken up a no-hitter earlier in the inning. Kane County won both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, 3-2 and 4-2, before the Bees came back to take Sunday’s finale, 7-6, in 10 innings.
“This team, they just keep coming at you,” Tracy said of the Bees. “That’s what they did in the first half. We had a chance to win all four of those games. I’m proud of the way they played.”
Tracy said there are parts of managing that he misses.
He talked about Thursday’s game, when the Bees carried that no-hitter into the ninth.
“Guys are into the game, they know what’s going on, they’re hanging on every pitch,” Tracy said. “That’s the part of the game I miss. There is a lot of the field coordinator part that I love. But that feeling in the dugout, you can’t replicate.”
YAN HEATING UP
Hector Yan didn’t need a translator to explain how much he appreciates the hot weather after the first couple of months of the season.
Yan was asked after Thursday’s game if he enjoys the weather the Bees are playing in now.
“Si, si,” he said, laughing.
Yan, who is from the Dominican Republic, is 2-2 with a 3.07 earned run average this season. He has allowed just 36 hits in 55 ⅔ innings, striking out 78, fourth-best in the Midwest League. Opponents are hitting .182 against him.
But his numbers have improved with the weather.
Yan was 0-1 with a 4.82 ERA in April. He was 0-1 with a 4.41 ERA in May.
But in June, Yan is 2-0 with an 0.44 ERA. He has a streak of 15 innings without giving up a run and 11 innings without a hit.
“He’s been pitching well all year,” Tracy said. “But he’s certainly kicked it to the next level here in the last month. Just great stuff, and he seems to be getting better and better as the year goes on, and that’s great.”
The Bees are 20-11 in one-run games, tied for second in wins among all minor league teams. They are now 7-2 in extra-inning games, tied with nine other teams for the second-most wins. … Pitcher Jose Soriano ranks fourth in the league in batting average against (.203), fifth in ERA (2.55) and is tied for eighth in strikeouts (72).
THE WEEK THAT WAS
Batting average: .214
Opponents’ batting average: .222
Opponents’ ERA: 2.81
Notes: Bees outfielder Jordyn Adams has a nine-game on-base streak. … Bees starting pitchers struck out 21 in 22 innings. … Justin Jones hit .363 in the four-game series, while Nonie Williams hit .357.
THE WEEK AHEAD
• Quad Cities (6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at Community Field, 6:35 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport) — The River Bandits, 2-1 in the second half after winning the Western Division first-half title, are 45-24 overall, best in the league. The Bees are the only team with a winning record against them, going 4-3.
• At Peoria (6:35 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) — The Bees are 4-2 against the Chiefs this season, but lost two out of three to them in the final weekend of the first half, which kept Burlington out of the playoffs.
• Jo Adell (2018) is ranked No. 4 overall on MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects list. Adell, playing for the Angels’ Double-A team in Mobile, is batting .361 since his return from an injury suffered in spring training. Adell is batting .389 in the last 10 games, .400 in the last four games.
• Orlando Martinez (2018) has an eight-game hitting streak at Inland Empire. Martinez, batting .302 this season, is hitting .370 in the last 10 games and .371 in the current hitting streak.
Photo of Chad Tracy courtesy of Steve Cirinna/Burlington Bees