It’s been 473 days since Troy Tulowitzki last took the field in a Major League Baseball game. Nearly 15-and-a-half months since the Blue Jays’ former starting shortstop faced live pitching and ran the bases.
A lot’s changed since then. One thing that hasn’t wavered is Tulowitzki’s desire and commitment to play everyday shortstop for the Blue Jays in 2019. Judging by his comments earlier this year, he still views himself as the number one shortstop on the team.
Evidence suggests otherwise.
Nevertheless, the Blue Jays have at least $42 million owing to the former All-Star on a contract which is one of the most immovable deals in baseball. Against all odds, Tulowitzki and the Blue Jays are giving this the old college try, as there will be at least four Major League-calibre shortstops in Spring Training camp.
Where will Tulo fit into that mix? Ross Atkins spoke to Jon Morosi during last week’s GM meetings and provided an update about how Tulowitzki is progressing in his recovery. (The Tulowitzki part gets going at the 4:30 mark)
In case you missed that, here’s the full quote from Atkins:
“I could show you video on my phone of him hitting. He’s really getting after it. It’s best I’ve heard him in a while. He’s very positive, optimistic about the year to come.
It’s been tough, though. It’s been a long two years of him not being able to perform at the level he wants to and feels he’s capable of. It’s never easy for an elite performer and he’s handling it exceptionally well.”
Yes, I’d characterize that update as “uninspiring”. Atkins said “I could show you video on my phone of him hitting”, but hitting is the least of Tulowitzki’s concerns. As someone who had heel spurs removed from both feet, the real litmus test is his ability to field and run, which Atkins never indicated.
“He’s the best I’ve heard him in a while” is another grim report on the 34-year-old. Not the best I’ve seen, the best I’ve heard him … as in Tulowitzki’s outlook after missing the last year-and-a-half.
It may only be November and Spring Training camp doesn’t open up for another three months, but if this is the latest we’re hearing about a player who had surgery back in March, it doesn’t paint a positive picture.
He has an albatross of a contract looming over him, but nobody’s rooting against Tulowitzki. People want to see him succeed and show some semblance of becoming an elite shortstop again.
Personally, I would love to see Tulo return next year and win the everyday shortstop job. If he’s healthy enough to play next year and he outperforms the other players at the position, then why not run Tulo out there next year?
Yet, after this latest update in his health, sadly, the likelihood of Tulo being ready for Opening Day seems further away than it’s ever been.