Extra stretches keep Tulowitzki healthy
Rockies shortstop has first step back after quad injury in 2008
TUCSON, Ariz. -- The sequence was routine this time last year. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki dashed to his right to field a slow bouncer, contorted and threw to second for an out during Friday's game against the Angels.
But these days, he has to twist into even more positions to be able to do that during a game.
Tulowitzki missed 47 games last year with a torn tendon in his left quadriceps. Even when he returned and played every day, it never fully healed. But massage therapy and exercise this offseason brought back the health. Now, he must stay loose.
"For the most part, I feel real good," Tulowitzki said. "It's probably about three or four different stretches right before the game.
"I knew coming into Spring Training that I was able to go. I took a lot of ground balls during the offseason, and I could tell I had my first step back and I was getting to balls that, last year coming off the injury, I couldn't."
Other than the extra stretching, Tulowitzki has worked out and played regularly this spring and made no concessions to the injury. Saturday's game at Hi Corbett Field against the Dodgers was his third start of the four games the club has played.
"He looks pretty much complete," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's moving good to his left and right. Obviously, that strong arm is never going to go away."
The offseason went well enough that Tulowitzki's leg wasn't much of an issue this offseason. Most of the talk has been about whether he'll return to consistent hitting and demonstrating leadership no matter what the stat sheet says. Both were areas he looked to improve.
But health is part of the equation. The quad injury, and a lacerated hand he suffered while slamming his bat in frustration, cost him time, and it took awhile for Tulowitzki to figure that he couldn't make up weeks and months with each at-bat. Tulowitzki finished strong offensively, and went from .166 at the All-Star break to .263 at season's end.
Now that health isn't an issue, he hopes he can continue the upswing.
"It's different in a game, playing at game speed," Tulowitzki said. "It was nice to get some good jumps on some balls, be out there and be myself. I think if the season were to start today, I'd be ready to go."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.