Tracy, Littlefield know each other well

After firing Lloyd McClendon and beginning the search for a new manager, Pirates GM Dave Littlefield drew up the ideal profile: He wanted an experienced guy with a winning pedigree and the patience and player-development background to cultivate the young talent in the Pittsburgh clubhouse.

Familiarity wasn't a prerequisite. But this is a big hire for Littlefield, so the last thing he wants or needs is surprises.

There won't be any with this partnership. Jim Tracy was a minor-league manager and then Felipe Alou's bench coach when Littlefield was working in the Montreal front office in the 1990s, so the two men know each other well. Their first phone conversation about the Pittsburgh job lasted two hours, and there was an obvious comfort level.