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Broken rib forces Tulo to DL; Rutledge up

Star shortstop one of three Colorado stars forced to exit with injury

DENVER -- An MRI exam on Thursday night showed that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has a broken rib on his right side, and on Friday, he was placed on the disabled list.

Tulowitzki sustained the injury while diving for an eighth-inning grounder during a 5-4 loss to the Nationals on Thursday at Coors Field, and he is expected to miss four to six weeks.

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Manager Walt Weiss said after the game that Tulowitzki has been dealing with rib pain recently, and it was exacerbated when he dove for Ian Desmond's infield single. Tulowitzki held onto the ball because he didn't have a play.

Tulowitzki, who entered the game second in the National League in hitting and has been a decisive leader in balloting for a starting spot in the All-Star Game, left the game after the inning.

Additionally, left fielder Carlos Gonzalez was hit on the left foot by a foul ball while on deck in the first inning, and center fielder Dexter Fowler was hit on his right ring finger by a pitch in the third. Gonzalez left the game immediately while Fowler played two more innings before exiting in the fifth. In both cases, X-rays were negative and they're listed as day to day.

"When he came off, it was very evident he was done," Weiss said of Tulowitzki.

Tulowitzki went 1-for-3 with a run scored and finished the day with a .347 batting average. He also has 16 home runs and 52 RBIs, and is a perennial Rawlings NL Gold Glove Award candidate.

"I didn't even see 'Tulo,' really," Fowler said. "He came in [to the clubhouse], then was out."

The Rockies could be playing at least in the short term without Fowler, an effective leadoff hitter who is hitting .302 with 10 homers, and Gonzalez, who leads the team with 18 homers and 52 RBIs.

Additionally, regular right fielder Michael Cuddyer returned to the starting lineup on Thursday and went 1-for-4 with a double after sitting out five games due to bruised ribs.

After losing Tulowitzki for most of last season with a groin injury, the Rockies have not let him play when he's had nagging leg injuries, trying to make sure he doesn't put himself at risk for a major ailment. But there's not much the team could have done to protect him from a broken rib.

"There's nothing to really talk about or coach through," said Cuddyer, who said he knows how Tulowitzki feels due to his own rib injury. "Pain is pain. If it hurts, it hurts."

Triple-A Colorado Springs made a late decision to scratch infielder Josh Rutledge from its lineup for Thursday night's game against Salt Lake City after the injury to Tulowitzki, and he will replace Tulowitzki at short. Rutledge was the Rockies' Opening Day second baseman and hit .242 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 43 games before being sent down to work on his defensive skills.

Rutledge is hitting .348 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 17 Triple-A games.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb.

Colorado Rockies, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, Josh Rutledge, Troy Tulowitzki