04/17/11 10:00 AM ET
Taking day off not high on Tulo's priority list
Rockies star shortstop gets inning of rest in Saturday's defeat
By Owen Perkins / MLB.com
Tulowitzki extended his hitting and scoring streaks to seven games, though the Rockies' winning streak was stopped at seven. But he ended his run of playing every inning of the season as a means of ensuring his name would be in Sunday's starting lineup.
Manager Jim Tracy shared his intent to rest Tulowitzki in the series finale against the Cubs before the Rockies' 8-3 loss on Saturday, but when he told his cleanup-hitting All-Star shortstop, he got some resistance.
"I talked to him about where my thought process was at the time, because of the fact that [resting him during] the San Francisco series was not going to be an option, and he looked at me and said, 'Trace, I'm good,'" Tracy said. "As long as he's good and the head trainer's good with the fact that we're not grinding too hard, we'll let him keep going out there."
The game situation gave both Tracy and Tulowitzki a comfort level with the move. Tulowitzki was pulled after the eighth inning, moving Jonathan Herrera to shortstop and giving backup catcher Jose Morales his big league debut at second base.
The Rockies had their best chance at climbing back from an 8-3 deficit foiled when Kerry Wood struck out Jason Giambi in a 10-pitch at-bat with two on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, which set Tulowitzki up to lead off the ninth.
"The way I look at it is that you get a day off or an inning off. I'll take an inning off," Tulo said. "You look at that game and the time I was up right there, I was the leadoff hitter. The most I'm going to do, let's just say I do hit a home run right there, that's one run. We're still down. Say I draw a walk there. I'm on base, but the people behind me were going to have to have a big, big inning and a lot of hits were going to have to happen. If I'm hitting fourth or fifth that inning, I might stay in."
Tulowitzki is tough to take out of the lineup. He's got a lot of Cal Ripken Jr. in him, and he would play every day if the choice were his.
"I don't want a day off at all," Tulowitzki said, recalling his conversation with Tracy. "I want to be in there. These games are real important to the team and to myself. If I'm feeling good, I always want to be in there."
Tracy, on the other hand, is determined to avoid running his everyday players into the ground over the course of a long season, and he is adamant that the day will come when Tulowitzki leaves his spikes in the locker and enjoys watching a ballgame from the bench.
"If he's going to play [every day], then I have to find ways to get him off of his feet a little bit, and I'm fine with that," Tracy said. "He understands the fact that when we get to the point where there's no question he's going to take a day, when the head trainer comes down from his office and tells me he absolutely needs a day, then he'll get one. But right now, he doesn't want one, so I'll put him back in there tomorrow."
Using Morales at second was not a last-ditch move with a depleted bench -- Jose Lopez was available, and the Rockies have enough versatility and several alternatives -- but Tracy was eager to seize an opportunity to test Morales for just that kind of desperation situation in which he'd want to use him as a pinch-hitter without burning his backup catcher for the rest of the game, in case of an emergency.
"If we're going to get the matchup we want at home plate in a given situation, [Morales] would have to be the guy to go out there and play [second]," Tracy said. "If we're going to experiment with it, we're going to do it in a 8-3 game first, not a 3-3 game."
Morales passed the test, making a tough play to barehand a slow grounder and get the inning-ending out at first -- as Tulowitzki watched from the bench.
"You don't plan taking too many breaks, so when you get an inning, you put your shoes on and relax and stay out there," Tulowitzki said.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.