Tulo turns attention to Toronto and the future
CHICAGO -- Troy Tulowitzki admitted feeling "somewhat blindsided" when the Rockies traded him on Monday night, but he is turning his attention to a Blue Jays team that did its homework and considers him part of what it hopes is a playoff run.
"It's mixed emotions -- sad, excited, kind of like getting drafted all over again," said Tulowitzki, who as a rookie in 2007 contributed to a Rockies team that went to the World Series and later developed into one of the game's best shortstops. "It's like the big league debut. I didn't sleep at all last night, and I didn't sleep before my big league debut. It's tough, but all I can do is look forward and keep doing what I do, and things will work out."
Tulowitzki and veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins were swapped for Jose Reyes, another veteran star shortstop, and three righty prospects who are considered keys to the deal and the Rockies' future -- Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco.
The deal went down days before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rockies and Blue Jays had talked for weeks, Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich said during a news conference in Denver, but the deal sped to its completion quickly. Although talk of the Rockies unloading Tulowitzki's contract through 2020 has been a constant during years of struggle, Tulowitzki had no idea of the move until he was pulled before the bottom of the ninth inning of a game the Rockies lost, 9-8, to the Cubs on Monday.
"I don't think I've ever been pulled for a defensive replacement or in a double-switch, so that was kind of sketchy," Tulowitzki said. "Then [manager] Walt [Weiss] pulled me aside and said something might be in the works. Then it went from there. I made a few phone calls and got the news. I was very surprised the way it went down."
Weiss wasn't sure at first why he was asked by assistant athletic trainer Scott Gehret, who had received word in the dugout that the trade was being completed, to remove Tulowitzki from that game.
"When I was told that he had to come out of the game, I thought he had hurt his quad or something, because he had to run hard to first [during his ninth-inning at-bat], and kind of lunged for the base," Weiss said. "I had to hurry out to the umpire and say I wanted to double-switch at that point. Then I came back, and that's when I caught wind that something might be in the works."
Tulowitzki didn't have a no-trade clause (one kicks in now that the Rockies have traded him) and therefore had no voice in talks. But Tulowitzki, who in May announced that he would not personally push for a trade and last week said he didn't expect to be moved, expected communication.
"I was definitely told that I would be talked to, that I would be informed if things were going on," he said. "To get somewhat blindsided, maybe it was my fault, to be naïve that things would work out that way. Maybe I felt like they owed me something. They didn't.
"I understand it is a business. But at the same time, looking someone in the eye and being told something is going to work a certain way, that's the way it would play out."
Tulowitzki wants his former teammates "to be good. I want them to play on winning teams." But he walks into a situation where he can be part of winning now.
"You look at their lineup -- they've scored the most runs in the league," Tulowitzki said. "From what I hear, it's a good place to hit, especially home runs. I know pitching at times for them has been a struggle. Maybe they're not done acquiring guys to really make a run."
Tulowitzki's deep injury history, with injuries to his leg muscle the chief reason he exceeded 140 games just once in the previous five seasons, will come up, because the Blue Jays play on an artificial surface at Rogers Centre.
"That's going to be the new popular question I get because of my history," he said. "I've done my homework a little bit already, and from what I hear, the guys haven't gotten hurt because of playing on the turf.
"Now there were some back injuries, but knock on wood, my back has been good throughout my career."
Tulowitzki is impressed with the research the Blue Jays have done on him, although he admitted that the chance to wear the unique stylized bird head and Maple Leaf was unexpected.
"I've really always been a big fan, a lot of people are, of their uniform -- it's a great-looking uniform," he said.
"I remember going to the [Oakland] Coliseum as a kid -- big games, playoff games -- and it seemed they were always playing Toronto. Baseball really went through Toronto back in those days. They always made the moves, they spent some money and had some good teams. They're trying to get back to that. Hopefully, we can."