Tulo homers again, but 'a lot of work ahead'

March 1st, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. -- 's second Grapefruit League home run in a Yankees uniform did not carry the same emotional punch as his first, but every day of continued progress has been extraordinarily meaningful for the veteran shortstop.

Tulowitzki showed another flash of the form that prompted the Yankees to gamble on his health this spring, slugging a three-run homer in the first inning of New York's 8-6 victory over the Pirates on Thursday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"I have a lot of work ahead of me," Tulowitzki said. "Two games; I need to be out there more, see more pitchers, just be on my feet more. But I'll take it. It's a good start. I'm just having fun, man. It was a long road for me, so every time I step out there on the field, I don't take it for granted. I'm trying to enjoy every moment."

Three days after Tulowitzki homered against his former Blue Jays teammates in the Yankees' spring home opener, which he called "the biggest Spring Training homer I ever hit," the 34-year-old took Bucs left-hander deep toward the left-field scoreboard.

It was a swing similar to the ones that grabbed attention during Tulowitzki's workout at Long Beach State University, from which Yankees scout JT Stotts submitted a glowing report.

When Tulowitzki held a second, hour-long private workout for scouts Jay Darnell and Dan Giese, even offering to run the bases to prove his surgically repaired heels were close to normal, the veteran evaluators came away convinced that they were looking at a big league player.

"It's great to get some early results and have a couple of home runs out of the gate," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "That can come and go at this time of the year. There's no question that he has the ability to impact the ball. You can see that in his batting practices.

"I'm probably more excited about how well he's moving in the field and attacking the ball and just playing free and easy. He looks really athletic out there."

The Yankees are being cautious to not over-exert Tulowitzki early in the exhibition schedule, though he said that he bounced back fine from the first game, resuming back-field defensive workouts the next day.

"Shortstop, I've been playing since I was 5 years old, so I feel comfortable out there," Tulowitzki said. "At the plate, I think timing and seeing different pitchers and velocity, I still need to do that. I feel at home at short. I love it out there, man. I feel so comfortable out there."

Boone said that Tulowitzki's next game action is likely to come on Saturday against the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.

"Just keep going. Keep on keeping at it," Tulowitzki said. "I feel good, let's put it that way. I'm excited with the way that I'm feeling, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. It is only my second game."