Tracy elated to receive extension through 2013

Tracy elated to receive extension through 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- Infielder Chad Tracy, who was fighting for a roster spot in Spring Training after signing a Minor League contract with the Nationals during the offseason, has agreed to an extension with the team through the 2013 season.

Tracy, whose road back to the Majors has not been easy after spending the 2011 season playing in Japan, said he felt things have come "full circle" with the opportunity to rejoin the club again next year.

"Last couple years, two or three years, in the offseason, I didn't know what was going to happen," Tracy said. "In 2003, I was signing Minor League deals and having to come in and fight in Spring Training to make a club. To have a guaranteed year and know where you're going next year for your family, you can kind of start planning. It's great. It's a good way to play."

Tracy has appeared in 43 games this season for Washington -- his first, after spending six years with the D-backs, and one with each the Cubs and Marlins -- and has been a valuable left-handed bat off the bench.

"I think it's a story of perseverance and love of the game," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "He had an injury-plagued season last year, went to Japan. Your comfort level is really tested there. Your love of the game is tested. And to compound that with being injured, it really made it difficult for us.

"So when we talked to Chad this offseason and his agent, we felt we had a good enough relationship that we made promises he would get an opportunity to make the club. And his performance allowed for him to make the club. And he just kept exceeding expectations and played extremely well. He's a real asset on the club."

Tracy has hit .283 -- which would be his highest season batting average since he hit .308 in 145 games with the D-backs in 2005, his second season -- with three homers and 13 RBIs. Ten of his 13 RBIs have come in pinch-hit situations, in which he is batting .320 with a .400 on-base percentage and .920 OPS.

"You had two parties that wanted to be together," Rizzo said. "He's been a great teammate and he's been great off the bench. We thought it was a good time to lock him up so he didn't get to free agency and test the waters. We know we have a guy we like, and a guy that's performed for us. So we felt it was a good time to lock him up for next year."

Both Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson pointed to former National Laynce Nix as a valuable role player who had an strong season, tested the free agent waters and signed a two-year extension elsewhere. Rather than taking that risk with Tracy, the Nationals nipped it in the bud.

"I think this goes kind of hand in hand with some history of some talented role players," Johnson said. "Like the perfect example here with Nixy. He got a two-year contract to come over [to Philadelphia] and we were going to offer him a one-year deal. So rather than get caught with our pants on fire, [we signed Tracy to an extension]."

Rizzo said it can be considered a good sign that the team is working to lock up key bench pieces, while Tracy said the opportunity to come back with a club that carries such promise did factor into the decision.

"You're on a first-place team over 30 games over .500, and they're offering you an extension," Tracy said. "There's really not a whole lot better than that."