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Colorado relying on Tulowitzki

Citizen Staff Writer



Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki remembers vividly seeing his name in the starting lineup late in 2007 spring training.

It was that late lineup card that signified who was going to be on the club when it broke camp at Hi Corbett Field.

“It was a memorable moment,” Tulowitzki said. “I’ll never forget it. Any time you can become a starter on a big league team for the first time is a big accomplishment.”

Tulowitzki not only started, but became a force in the Rockies’ run to the World Series that year.

He led all National League rookies in at-bats (609), plate appearances (678), games (155), hits (177), doubles (33), runs (104), total bases (292), walks (57) and RBIs (99).

He has become one of the faces of the team, a player everybody is looking up to with the regular season starting April 6.

“I want the guys to look at me in this locker room and say, ‘He has that leader mentality and he is a good player because he works his butt off and takes this game seriously because he cares, not only about himself, but the team,’ ” Tulowitzki said.

The 24-year old won’t necessarily say a lot, speaking more with a productive bat that brings a combination of power and consistency.

That doesn’t mean he won’t say what is on his mind on a young team looking for leadership.

“That falls with his personality,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “He picked some times where he became vocal and then backed it up.

“He obviously produced at a very high level.”

Sometimes Tulowitzki has tried too hard to get the job done after he received a 6-year, $31 million contract after 2007.

The batting average shrank to .152, with only one home run and 11 RBIs, for the opening 26 games a year ago before he went on the disabled list. He finished the season hitting .263 with eight homers and 46 RBIs.

“I was hungry starting last season,” Tulowitzki said. “I wanted to become a superstar. I felt I was on the verge of becoming one of the better players in the game. I took a step back. Every year you want to take a step forward and become that player you strive to be.”

Tulowitzki led all NL shortstops after the All-Star break with a .327 average.

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