TORONTO -- Troy Tulowitzki began his career as a shortstop, and that's where he intends to finish it. If the 12-year veteran gets his way, there is no position change happening now, or ever.Toronto has never at any point indicated that it wanted Tulowitzki to change positions, but there has
TORONTO -- Troy Tulowitzki began his career as a shortstop, and that's where he intends to finish it. If the 12-year veteran gets his way, there is no position change happening now, or ever.
Toronto has never at any point indicated that it wanted Tulowitzki to change positions, but there has been plenty of speculation in some media circles that's what the club would end up doing. Declining defensive stats have been used as the main justification, but regardless of the metrics, a move across the diamond doesn't seem very likely at all.
Tulowitzki held court with a large group of reporters prior to Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox for the first time since he sustained ligament damage in his right ankle. He has been ruled out for the year, but when Tulowitzki was asked about a possible position change for 2018, he did not hold back.
"It's really far from my mind," Tulowitzki said. "I've had to answer pretty much that same question since I came out of college. Now I'm sitting here, 32 years old, almost 33 years old, and I get asked the same questions. I think you guys know how serious I am about that position, and I'll be the first one to say, 'Hey, I'm not getting the job done.' But I feel like I bring a lot to the table defensively."
According to Fangraphs, Tulowitzki had an ultimate zone rating of -1.0 this season, and he also had 0 defensive runs saved in 562 innings at shortstop. Both of those metrics were his lowest since 2012 and indicate he experienced diminished range. The big unknown is how much of a role a lingering hamstring injury played in all of this, but it's clear that Tulowitzki doesn't have any doubts about where he belongs.
Tulowitzki brought up the metrics on his own and stated that he felt people pay too much attention to those numbers. What goes unnoticed in his mind, is the role a shortstop plays in "slowing the game down for your teammates, your pitchers, taking charge in the infield." Those are the type of intangibles that don't show up on the stat sheet, but is the type of leadership that Tulowitzki clearly prides himself on.
"I look forward to the challenge of people asking that question," Tulowitzki said in reference to the doubts about his ability to play shortstop. "There's one thing that I've always said since I stepped foot on a big league field. I'll start this thing as a shortstop and I'll finish it as a shortstop. I think it is a good question, but at the same time, I've lived this position. I've dreamed of playing shortstop since I was a young, young kid. All of my idols were shortstops and I take a lot of pride in it."
None of this will really matter unless Tulowitzki finds a way to stay on the field more consistently. He was limited to 66 games this season because of the hamstring and ankle issues. The rehab for his right ankle will continue well into the offseason, but he's expected to make a full recovery and be completely healthy by the start of Spring Training.
The problem is that even before this season, Tulowitzki missed more than 30 games in three consecutive years. He has at least three years and $58 million remaining on his contract beyond this season, and with a full no-trade clause, he's not going anywhere any time soon.
"Work ethic, that's all there is to it," Tulowitzki said. "In the offseason, I don't spend it going on vacations and doing all these things. It's strictly baseball for me. I try to get myself better as a player, and this time it's going to be a rehab. Take it seriously and when people doubt you, try to get back on your feet and answer some of those critics who say this and that."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.