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BASEBALL NOTEBOOK

Tracy accepts the challenge with Pirates

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, who signed a three-year contract yesterday to become 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 LA in 2001.

''Challenges are something that I like very, very much," said Tracy, 49, who takes over a team that went 67-95 last season.

''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."

Teams interview

Fredi Gonzalez, the bench coach for the Atlanta Braves, interviewed last night in New York for the Florida Marlins' managing job. Gonzalez, 41, spent 10 years in the Marlins organization and managed the first game in the organization's history with Erie of the New York-Penn League in June 1992 . . . Oakland Athletics bullpen coach Bob Geren interviewed for several hours yesterday for the team's managerial vacancy and said the meeting went well. Geren, long considered a front-runner to replace Ken Macha, was given no timeline when a hire might be made -- though he believes it could be a while. ''I felt that it was a great experience and the questions were outstanding," Geren said. ''It was a really good baseball-talking session. I feel really good about it. I know I had a good time and it was very informative."

Dog days for A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez was hitless in Monday night's 5-3 ALDS loss to the Angels that sent the Yankees home for the year, and he finished the five-game series with no RBIs and a .133 batting average.

''I played great baseball all year, and I played like a dog the last five days," Rodriguez said.

''This is as low as it gets. I felt good, I saw the ball well. If I would have contributed some, maybe we would be moving on.

''I've got to take a long look in the mirror because I didn't do my part.

''I mean, you win and lose as a team, but I didn't show up."

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