There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Troy Tulowitzki is an elite player and that the Rockies are better with him in the lineup. What is being questioned is whether he should return this season.
For the first time since he underwent surgery to repair his left groin June 21, Tulowitzki turned double plays Wednesday before the game. Typically, this drill would amount to mindless calisthenics. But what the two-time all-star shortstop said afterward made it seem more significant.
“Since I hurt my leg (in the second game of the season in Houston), this was the first time I threw the ball to first and could see the carry on it,” Tulowitzki said. “Early in the season, I babied my throws and guided them because of my leg. Now I actually feel like I can be myself again.”
Forty-five minutes after Tulowitzki’s admission, left-hander Drew Pomeranz jogged from foul pole to foul pole before signing several autographs for kids. He was supposed to start Wednesday, but was scratched and moved to Sunday because of pain in his biceps. The Rockies are trying to gently nudge him to the finish line, providing extra rest while allowing Pomeranz to learn how to work through soreness.
“I don’t want to go out there and not be able to throw with max effort,” Pomeranz said. “So at this point, why not wait a little bit so I can pitch at my best?”
This season is lost in the standings, relevant now for evaluations of players and staff. When looking for the reasons that the Rockies will be respectable next year, Tulowitzki and Pomeranz are prominent on that list.
While statistical seamheads insist that lineup protection is a myth, tell that to Carlos Gonzalez. He has seven home runs since Tulowitzki went on the disabled list, and recently completed an 0-fer road trip.
“They don’t want me to beat them, so I have to settle for singles and walks,” Gonzalez said. “Then I get impatient.”
Tulowitzki has lived that emotion for months. After simulated baserunning and fielding drills Wednesday, he’s inching toward a rehab assignment. The plan is for him to travel with the team next week to New York and Chicago. But there’s an outside shot he could head out before then.
“I am not thinking about my leg. I feel free out there again,” Tulowitzki said. “Around five to six weeks, it wasn’t responding the way I wanted. But just as (Rockies trainer Keith Dugger) said, at seven to eight weeks there was big improvement. I am going to keep listening to what he tells me to do.”
Tulo wants to ease his mind and eliminate doubt entering the offseason. That might mean two weeks of at-bats.
The Rockies have quietly protected Pomeranz, the prized jewel in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal. Despite being in a four-man rotation for a chunk of the season, Pomeranz has not thrown on three of days rest once. That was by design. It’s easy to forget he was at Ole Miss two years ago.
“He was going to be skipped a few times. It can be frustrating because he’s not having the season he would like,” said pitching coach Bo McLaughlin of Pomeranz’s 1-7 record with a 5.04 ERA. “And he’s learning about pitching when you aren’t at your best.”
Pomeranz has dealt with this type of pain since college. It’s related to his delivery, when he slings the ball, requiring more effort. Part of a becoming a rotation anchor is gobbling innings, and giving the team a chance to win (the Rockies are 34-33 this season when the starter logs at least five innings).
The Rockies need Pomeranz to push through this barrier for his growth. Tulowitzki needs to return for his mental health, illustrating the need to balance patience with performance.
“I want to play,” Tulowitzki said. “But you have to be smart and keep making progress.”
Source: The Denver Post