SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) The constant trade talk finally began to affect Troy Tulowitzki over the winter.
”I think this offseason was the first time it really hit me, just because it was every single day and pretty hard,” Tulowitzki said Monday. ”I do pay attention and, yeah, I saw my name being thrown all over.”
Tulowitzki is still with Colorado — for now — and reported to Rockies camp four days early with a steely resolve. The four-time All-Star vows to find a way to end his injury woes and resurrect his career.
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”I’ve gone to lengths and lengths to try to figure this thing out,” Tulowitzki said of the various injuries that have robbed him of consistency. ”I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to quit trying until I find that right recipe.
”And if I do find it, I think I’m going to be all right.”
Nobody can argue that. When the 30-year-old Tulowitzki is on the field, he’s one of the game’s best shortstops, a feared hitter and a sought-after player for teams in contention.
”He has a burning desire to be great,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
He was second in rookie of the year voting in 2007 when the Rockies reached the World Series and he played in a career-best 155 games.
He was fifth in MVP balloting two years later. He won the first of two Gold Gloves in 2010.
But Tulowitzki has missed 222 games over the past three seasons. There has been a broken wrist, a groin injury, broken ribs and then a torn labrum in his left hip that required season-ending surgery in August.
Tulowitzki was hitting a career-best .340 with 21 home runs and 52 RBIs when he was shut down after 91 games.
”I can tell you it’s not for a lack of effort. He works his (butt) off,” Rockies closer LaTroy Hawkins said. ”Then you have fans saying, `He can’t stay healthy. He’s fragile.’ No, he’s not fragile. He just plays a premium position and he’s always moving. It’s not easy. Everybody is built differently.”
Still owed at least $118 million on a contract that runs through 2020 for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, there has been plenty of trade talk.
The Rockies-Tulowitzki relationship hit bottom in July when the team handed out jerseys before a game that had his name misspelled. But he wasn’t traded before the deadline. New general manager Jeff Bridich then listened to more offers in the offseason.
”The Rockies kept me involved. They told me that from the start,” Tulowitzki said. ”They told you guys that as well, that there would be some communication if something were to go down.”
Nothing has, so Tulowitzki showed up to Salt River Fields and declared himself healthy after an offseason minus fun and games.
”I don’t take things for granted, especially given my history,” he said. ”There’s no reason to go on a vacation or do things.”
Tulowitzki has tried to emulate the training programs of other players and athletes in other sports in his quest to stay healthy.
The recovery process has him to the point where he’s hitting and fielding. Running the bases is the next task.
”I can say I’m healthy as many times as I want,” he said. ”It doesn’t matter until I go out there and play.”
There’s no rush to get him on the field this spring. The Rockies are expected to be cautious with him and their other injury-prone star coming off surgery, outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.
Tulowitzki knows there will be two questions surrounding him all season. Can he finally stay healthy? And will he stay in Colorado?
”I pay attention. I watch the MLB channel all the time,” Tulowitzki said. ”I know what’s going on. I can’t control any of that. I can only control coming here and doing my job.”