Take two: Tulowitzki returns from DL
Shortstop comes off second injury stint in time to face Dodgers
DENVER -- Perhaps one day, when Troy Tulowitzki has established himself as a premier Major League shortstop, the small scar below his right pointer finger will serve as a reminder of just how far he's come since the beginning of his dismal 2008 season.
But for now, Tulowitzki, who has made two stints on the disabled list and is hitting .166 in 39 games, doesn't plan to make a scrapbook about his sophomore season.
"I don't like to reflect on any of it, because none of it's been too good," Tulowitzki said. "I just want to move on and get the games rolling so I can put this behind me, and get off to a fresh start."
Tulowitzki's (second) fresh start begins Monday, when he starts against the Dodgers after missing 13 games with a lacerated right hand he injured while slamming a bat to the ground on July 4. Earlier this season Tulowitzki missed 47 games with a torn left quadriceps tendon.
"It seems like I have to start over for the third time," he said. "That's the toughest part."
But the Rockies haven't missed a beat without him. They've won seven of the 13 games he's missed and are currently riding a four-game winning streak that has them just six games back of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in the National League West.
"I'm almost in a lose-lose situation," Tulowitzki joked. "If we win games, we're supposed to because we've been winning. But if we start dropping games, people may say it's because I'm in the lineup."
The Rockies have received major contributions from Jeff Baker, Clint Barmes, Omar Quintanilla and Ian Stewart during Tulowitzki's absence. It's made it a tough balancing act for Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, who wants to play Tulowitzki but doesn't want to ruin any chemistry the team's developed.
"It's challenging," Hurdle said. "But I want to give [Tulowitzki] a first look. We'll go from there. I think 'big-picture' speaking we all know he's capable of doing it."
Tulowitzki finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting last year after hitting .291 with 24 home runs and 99 RBIs. But the 23-year-old has often been accused of trying too hard to repeat that performance.
Hurdle said the team's recent success is because players are slowing the game down while not trying to do too much.
It's a game plan Hurdle believes Tulowitzki needs to follow.
"That's what I tried to encourage him to do," Hurdle said. "We've got a lot of guys that have had to work through that, but he's probably the last one to find that comfort zone."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.