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Tulo making progress, optimistic for 2018 return

Shortstop had surgery to remove bone spurs from both heels in Spring Training
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is optimistic that he will be back on the field for Toronto at some point in the 2018 season.

"I like my chances, the way things are going," he said. "It's definitely a goal of mine to come back and help these guys. I miss them. They're like family."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is optimistic that he will be back on the field for Toronto at some point in the 2018 season.

"I like my chances, the way things are going," he said. "It's definitely a goal of mine to come back and help these guys. I miss them. They're like family."

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Tulowitzki, who is recovering from surgery on both heels to remove bone spurs, spoke to members of the media before Toronto's game against the Rays on Tuesday. The veteran shortstop reported that he has had no setbacks since he has returned to baseball-related activities, including fielding drills and facing live pitching, at the team's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla.

"I can say for the first time in a while that I'm headed in the right direction," he said.

Last season, Tulowitzki was limited to just 66 games because of a strained right hamstring and a sprained right ankle, but the spurs have hampered the former All-Star throughout his career. After he experienced more pain this spring, the team placed him on the 60-day DL and he underwent surgery on both heels on April 2. He said that the pain is finally gone, and now he is only dealing with the soreness from the surgery.

"It was a big process," Tulowitzki said. "The spurs that came out were definitely bigger than expected. It was painful. I fought through it for a good amount of time. I never wanted to talk about it while I was sitting there going through it. I just kept on playing games and going out their for the team.

"This Spring Training, it got to be a little too much, and at this point in my career, I wanted to give myself a fair chance to come back and be the player I know I can be and end my career when I want to end it, and not because it's being forced."

The next step in his progression for the 33-year-old will be to test his heels in baserunning drills, something he expects to happen over the next week.

"It's all on feel," Tulo said. "There's no schedule. I just kind of come in every day and discuss how I'm feeling and give feedback on how sore I am and try and map out a plan on a weekly basis of what we want to try to do."

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Toronto Blue Jays, Troy Tulowitzki