BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
Much has been made nationally about Derek Jeter’s return to the Yankees yesterday after being on the disabled list to start the season.
Troy Tulowitzki made his return to the Rockies after being on the disabled list last night. Even though it did not make news nationally, it was a big deal in Denver.
Tulowitzki is the difference between the Rockies staying in the race and being out of the race.
His return should give the Rockies an edge that they have been lacking since he was on the disabled list.
It’s not looking good now obviously after the Rockies put on an uninspired performance in a 6-1 loss to the Dodgers last night, but it’s going to happen eventually once Tulowitzki heats up.
After going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, it’s going to take time for Tulowitzki to get back into the groove. Most times, no baseball player steps up and hit home runs right away after being on the disabled list. It does not work that way. Even if he hits a home run in his first game back, he would struggle in the next game.
The important thing is Tulowitzki is back.
The Rockies certainly miss him after going 9-16 without him.
It’s hard to replace a hitter who is hitting .347 with 16 home runs and 51 RBIs.
It’s hard to replace a player that knows how to make double plays or rob base hits.
It’s hard to replace a player who is batting .333 and driving in 33 runs with runners in scoring position.
Tulowitzki is a guy the Rockies trust when it comes to getting key hits, and the Rockies missed that when he was out for awhile.
The Rockies knew Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado would not help them overcome the loss of Tulowitzki. That was unrealistic. They are still young players that are still learning how to be good hitters in the majors. It will take a few years until they can be elite hitters.
Plus, they are not as good Tulowitzki when it comes to intangibles and great hitting.
Tulowitzki does things that no one can teach. It’s hard to teach a player to rise to the occasion when it comes to being a great situational hitter. Either a player has it or he doesn’t.
Tulowitzki is also one guy that does not accept losing as an option. He’s not afraid to get on guys who are going through the motions. He’s a player that backs it up when it comes to knowing how to win.
His leadership and his play are why the Rockies made the World Series in 2007. That attribute also played a role in the Rockies making the playoffs in 2009.
The Rockies need Tulowitzki’s leadership more than anything right now.
They have played bad baseball, and most of the players seem to accept losing rather than being upset about it. They seem defeated as soon as they get on the field. They would rather get this game over when they are behind instead of grinding out good at-bats.
That’s why it’s not an accident the Rockies are 9-16 without him in the 25 games he was out, and 124-161 without him in the games he has missed in his tenure with the team.
The losing was difficult to bear for Tulowitzki, and that’s why he made his return now rather than wait for the All-Star break. If he had his way, he would have played two weeks ago, but the Rockies did not want to rush him.
For Tulowitzki’s part, he was happy to be back.
It wasn’t fun for him to be shut down after his injury. For all the criticism he receives for being hurt, it hurts for him to not do what he loves.
Tulowitzki knows nothing can be taken for granted with his injury history.
Like the Rockies, he will be hoping he can find a way to stay healthy the rest of the season.
The Rockies are at a crossroads. They have to play better this month or else this season will be a lost cause. They are hoping Tulowitzki is their trump card to get them back in the playoff race.
They also hope Tulowitzki is all they need to win the division. It’s obvious since they are not going to make moves to improve the team this offseason.
That’s why he came at the nick of time with 69 games remaining in the season.
He is the Rockies’ last chance in a season that is about to slip away.
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