Monday, April 27, 2009
Tulowitzki pulled from Rockies' lineup
DENVER -- With his swing out of sorts, Troy Tulowitzki took a seat.
The Colorado Rockies' smooth-fielding shortstop was benched Monday night against San Diego so he could spend some extra time in the indoor cage.
Just how long Tulowitzki will sit has yet to be determined.
"We're going to take it one day at a time. I've found out throughout my lifetime that's the best way to do things," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "I really don't know what's going to happen. I know what has happened and I'm going to do everything I can to be the best coach and manager with him ... to get this thing straightened out."
For the second straight April, Tulowitzki has struggled out of the gate. He's in the midst of an 0-for-19 slump and his average has dipped to .167.
Tulowitzki has also struck out a team-leading 17 times in 54 at-bats, a number that has Hurdle concerned.
"The strikeouts are alarming and he knows that," Hurdle said before the game. "We're going to do everything we can to find a way to get him back in that [good] position and be the offensive player we've seen in the past."
Tulowitzki took the news in stride as Clint Barmes replaced him at shortstop.
"It's pretty obvious I haven't been swinging the bat well," Tulowitzki said. "I think me having a day will be good for me to get things going in the right direction. I fully believe in myself and I know I can get out of this. I've dealt with this before."
Yeah, last April.
Tulowitzki struggled at the plate early in '08 and spent two stints on the disabled list.
He missed time in late April after tearing his left quadriceps, and then injured his hand on the Fourth of July when he slammed his maple bat into the ground soon after he was removed from a game, sending shards of wood into his right palm.
Tulowitzki said in spring training that while last season was trying, it taught him patience.
Now he's putting the lesson to use, insisting he's not pressing.
"It's hard to say I'm not pressing, but at the same time I want to see results," he said. "I think we all do in this game. That's where you have to find a happy medium in this game and know that sometimes you can't control the results."
Hurdle thinks part of Tulowitzki's troubles stem from swinging at too many pitches up in the zone.
"I don't think there's any secret to that," Hurdle said.
He'd also like to see Tulowitzki get away from punching pitches the opposite way.
"The kid's a pull hitter, he's a big-swing guy, he's always going to be," Hurdle said. "Every once in a while you take a step back to move forward. Right now, we're going to get our hands around this thing and our brains around this thing earlier than later."
That includes getting Tulowitzki to harness his mighty swing.
"There's no doubt for me that there's times when he does swing too hard," Hurdle said. "I think we just need to find a way to channel that energy. You want him taking aggressive swings, but you don't want them to be swings out of context, swings that are overly aggressive, when it's just hard -- when you see it and you go, 'Wow, that's hard.'"
Tulowitzki is convinced the slump is more mental than anything. But he's absorbing all the advice Hurdle and hitting coach Don Baylor are dispensing.
Anything to break out.
"I listened to what the coaches had to say and hopefully I can make some adjustments to make me better," Tulowitzki said. "I think I'm seeing the ball good. It's not the best I could possibly see the ball, but I feel decent up there. I think I will see results soon."
Things came easy for Tulowitzki during his rookie season -- almost too easy. He hit .291 with 24 homers and 99 RBIs, leading the Rockies to the 2007 World Series.
He's trying to recapture that form at the plate.
"It's a frustrating game, especially when you fail more times than you succeed," he said. "I have been here before and I know that I can get back out of it again. It's just a matter of when."