Tracy Continuing To Grow

Tracy added a new pitch this year

As was the case with many Yankee prospects this year, it wasn't a banner year statistically for left-hander Matt Tracy in 2013. Aside from battling an injury for most of the second half, he had some games where he really struggled. He also, however, had some games where he really handcuffed hitters too, and the former college position player continues to grow as a pitcher.

He went just 4-5 with a 5.51 ERA for the Trenton Thunder this year, hardly earth-shattering numbers. However, considering the fact that 62 percent of his earned runs allowed this year came in his first five starts, there is some optimism surrounding where his game is at right now.

"I thought it was a pretty good year," Tracy said. "I learned a lot. I worked with some good coaches and had a lot of good experiences in Double-A. The end of the year was obviously frustrating being hurt and missing some time, but it was a good year overall."

Not overwhelmed by his awfully slow start to the season -- posting a 10.98 ERA and allowing a .407 opponents' batting average in the month of April -- the fact that he could not continue his tremendous turnaround [1.62 ERA in his next six games] due to injury was the really frustrating part.

He had begun to experience some pain in both his back and hip by the beginning of June, and made just one more start the entire rest of the season after the middle of that month.

"It took some time to figure out what was going on but there was an imbalance in my back and my hips that was causing some pain," he said. "That's what was going on. I was very fortunate that there were no tears or anything serious like that."

He initially rehabbed the injury for six weeks and tried to give it a go again in the beginning of August, making one more start against Harrisburg on August 1st, but the pain persisted and the Yankees shut him down the rest of the way.

"It was obviously frustrating missing some time. I wanted to be out there competing and helping my team win, especially down the stretch and in the playoff run. The trainers and the strength coaches all did a great job. I'm fully healthy now and ready for Spring Training."

He just got home a couple of weeks ago after completing his second rehab stint and he insists he's not only healthy but a full-go for the 2014 season already.

"When I was down in Tampa I was throwing bullpens and I was healthy," he revealed. "That was great. It was really good to be able to throw pain free and throw off of the mound pain free."

He isn't just excited about being healthy once again though. While the numbers might not exactly show it, he says his game did improve dramatically in 2013, especially with the introduction of a brand new cutter.

"I actually started throwing it in the first start of the season," he said. "It was something that was really exciting going into next year for me. I really developed it.

"I worked a lot with [pitching coach] Tommy Phelps on throwing it and it was really a pitch that worked well for me towards the end there. I started getting more and more comfortable with it so I'm excited to use it more next year."

Seeing significant improvement with the consistency of his curveball too after the first month of the season, Tracy, a former college outfielder, now has his arsenal set. Once primarily a fastball-changeup guy, he now has five pitches at his disposal.

He says he learned a lot about how to pitch to advanced hitters in the first month of the season and now that his stuff and command are continuing to grow, he's excited to get back out there and see what he can do now that he is healthy once again.

"I'm very excited. I just want to continue to work on everything so I can stay on the field and stay healthy. I'm very excited for Spring Training.

"Because I had missed so much time there at the end of the year I'm ready to go right now. I don't want to wait around for the season."

While some may point to his less than stellar numbers as some sign of regression in his game, Tracy feels the exact opposite way. He feels he has grown a lot as pitcher since his selection three years ago.

"A ton. There's a lot of great coaches and a lot of great staff members here with the Yankees that have helped me grow as a pitcher and I've learned a lot.

"I'm now pitching full-time and really becoming the pitcher they thought I could become. They've done a great job teaching me all of the little things you need to know on the mound in order to be successful," he concluded.

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