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Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez aren’t going anywhere this winter. Rockies owner Dick Monfort said Wednesday he does not intend to trade either all-star.
“The plan is to keep them. Next year, yes. And my plan is to always keep them,” Monfort said. “Is that the smartest thing in the world to do? I don’t know. But for our fans I think it’s the best thing to do.”
In a wide-ranging interview at Coors Field, Monfort addressed the team’s front-office structure, a planned player payroll increase to between $90 million and $95 million next year and his desire to add a starting pitcher and big bat to a team that has had three straight losing seasons.
Despite consecutive last-place finishes, Monfort said he will not alter the structure that has assistant general manager Bill Geivett in charge of day-to-day major-league operations and reporting to Dan O’Dowd, who is in charge of the Rockies’ player development but is also the boss of the front office.
“I really don’t think either one has done a poor job,” Monfort said.
The owner talked specifically about the Rockies’ finances and said he expects the player payroll to expand by about $9 million for 2014 from the estimated $83.7 million this past season.
Monfort hopes that will enable the Rockies to bring in a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, as well as a power-hitting outfielder who possibly could play first base too.
He disagreed with those who contend he doesn’t have a passion to bring winning baseball to Colorado.
“I want to win at everything, even checkers,” Monfort said, adding that a realistic goal is getting the Rockies into the playoffs “a couple of times every five years.”
The immediate plan to get the Rockies out of the National League West basement and into the postseason revolves around Tulowitzki, their all-star shortstop, and Gonzalez, their all-star left fielder.
“I love those two guys,” Monfort said. “And if they ever get on a tear … In Tampa Bay, every once in a while, Evan Longoria just carries them and we have two guys who can carry a team.”
Monfort said Geivett will continue to operate the day-to-day business of the major-league team, while O’Dowd will oversee the minor-league operations and player development.
He doesn’t believe the unusual front-office setup creates confusion for teams trying to make deals with the Rockies.
“It’s not that we have two GMs, it’s that they just switched roles,” Monfort said. “I think most teams have someone who is focused just on the major-league team. I think there is no normal GM role, it changes for every team.”
All major-league clubs will receive $54 million in national TV revenue next season. It amounts to a $27 million bump in new money, Monfort said, a large chunk of which already is earmarked.
After mandatory payments to Major League Baseball’s line of credit and to MLB’s central fund, and without home games against the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox, Monfort said it leaves the Rockies “where we could stretch up to about $91 million, and maybe even go up to $95 million” on player payroll. He said the Rockies had revenue of about $162 million this year and the “rule of thumb” for player payroll is about 50 percent of revenue.
The Rockies haven’t reached the playoffs since 2009 and have appeared in only one World Series, getting that far in 2007. Still, Monfort believes the Rockies have enough money, as well as the business model, to compete.
“I would say if Oakland, Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh can win, there’s no reason we can’t,” Monfort said.
The offseason promises speculation and improved health for Troy Tulowitzki.
He knows there will be trade rumors connected to his name — especially as long as the Cardinals, and perhaps Yankees, need an everyday shortstop. While the team’s season has not gone as hoped, the two-time all-star has avoided leg problems that ruined 2012.
He missed 25 games with a fracture of his fifth right rib. But the groin injury, other than a strain in May that cost him a few games, never proved to be an issue.
“My offseason will be different. I will be going into this feeling better than I ever have,” Tulo witzki said. “All last (offseason), I was meeting with the physical therapist every day. My focus was on getting in the lineup on opening day. My focus this winter will be on getting better.”
Tulowitzki said his rib injury has healed. He still feels it sometimes, but it doesn’t affect his swing or his range defensively. Tulowitzki entered Wednesday batting .313 with 22 home runs, 48 extra-base hits, and 73 RBIs. He has committed seven errors in 536 chances, leaving him a contender for his third gold glove, though he will face tough competition from the Braves’ Andrelton Simmons.
Tulowitzki turns 29 next month and has $134 million remaining on his contract. Even with a stint on the disabled list, he ranks second among all shortstops in home runs to Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy.
“It gives me confidence the way my leg has responded. It has days where it’s sore, but that’s part of it,” Tulowitzki said. “I am looking forward to improving.”
PHILADELPHIA — If one asks Troy Tulowitzki about his success in the second half of seasons, he will say that’s just baseball.
“I don’t see it as a grind,” Tulowitzki said. “I guess when you have as many injuries as I have had, you understand how great it is just to play. I love this game, I love to play it, and that’s something I’ve learned the older I’ve gotten.”
Tulowitzki has begun to find the groove that has made him one of the game’s most feared hitters. Over his seven-game hit streak entering Wednesday night’s game against the Phillies, Tulowitzki hit .407 (11-for-27) with home runs in back-to-back games against Philadelphia. That marked the fifth time he hit home runs in back-to-back games this year and 25th in his career.
“It’s baseball,” Tulowitzki said. “Sometimes you’re comfortable, and sometimes you’re off. A couple weeks ago I was off a little bit. It comes and goes. As you get older you understand that a little better.”
Tulowitzki extended his hitting streak with a single in the first inning Wednesday.
As part of its new biennial induction process, Long Beach State will add nine new members into the Long Beach State Athletics Hall of Fame on November 12 at the Long Beach Convention Center. The decorated group of athletes and coaches including Major League Baseball All-Star Troy Tulowitzki, late football coaching legend George Allen, current Virginia Tech men’s basketball head coach Seth Greenberg and the 1989 College World Series baseball team.
“We’re very proud to announce this outstanding class of inductees for the Long Beach State Hall of Fame,” said Long Beach State Athletic Director Vic Cegles in the official press release. The Long Beach State Athletics Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 1986 and includes more than 175 members. The 2013 Hall of Fame induction class also includes former student-athletes Cassie Azevedo, Alexis Crimes, Patty Gasso, Jason Hinkin, and Shawn Wilbourn.
“The accomplishments and achievements of this group truly represent the best in what Long Beach State Athletics has to offer,” added Cegles.
On top of the marquee is one of the most famous Long Beach coaches and a Pro Football Hall of Fame member. George Allen came to Long Beach State in 1990, coaching the 49ers for one memorable and final season after 12 years in the NFL. Under Allen’s direction, the 49ers posted a perfect 6-0 record at home and won their final three games in that season before his untimely death during that offseason. George Allen Field, the home of Long Beach State women’s soccer, was dedicated in his honor in August of 1991.
Tulowitzki, a three-time Major League Baseball All-Star, headlines the players to be inducted. He starting for three-years at shortstop for the Dirtbags, hitting .310 with 20 home runs, and was named first-team All-Big West as a sophomore and as a junior before being selected as the No. 7 overall pick in the 2005 MLB Draft. Tulowitzki was the National League Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2007 and is a two-time Gold Glove and Silver Slugger as one of the best shortstops in professional baseball.
Speaking of Dirtbags, the class will also include the second team ever honored in Long Beach State Hall of Fame history. The 1989 Long Beach State baseball team is linked with every team to follow as the original “Dirtbags.” Under first-year head coach Dave Snow, the “Dirtbags” got their nickname from dusty practice uniforms and gritty play that helped them win a school-record 50 games and advanced the 1989 College World Series, the first Long Beach State team to go to Omaha.
The second head coach being inducted, Greenburg, led the 49ers to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in his six years while he posted a 105-70 record and still ranks second all-time in career coaching victories at Long Beach State behind only Jerry Tarkanian. Greenberg also won the 1995-96 Big West regular-season title, and coached the last two 49ers to play in the NBA in Luscious Harris and Byron Russell.
The football heritage will also be honored with the induction of former defensive back Shawn Wilbourn. In 1990 as a senior, he was an All-Big West selection after he led the 49ers with 96 tackles while adding an interception, a forced fumble and four fumble recoveries. Wilbourn was drafted by the Buffalo Bills and he also set a Long Beach State school record in the decathlon that stood until 2006 and is still the third-highest mark in school history.
Back to the dugout, 2012 NFCA Hall of Fame Inductee Patty Gasso, playing under her maiden name Patty Froelich with the 49ers, was a softball standout in the team’s early years during the 1983 and 1984 seasons. Moving into coaching, Gasso spent four seasons at Long Beach City College before taking the head coaching job at Oklahoma, where she has posted a 1032-338-3 overall record, reaching the Women’s College World Series eight times and winning two national championships in 2000 and just this last summer with a 2013 team that played for its state after devastating tornados.
From track and field, Jason Hinkin is one of the most successful individual athletes in Long Beach State history. A five-time All-American in the pole vault, Hinkin was the last 49er to win an individual national championship, earning the honor with a school-record 18’ 6.5” performance. Hinkin also still holds the school record in the outdoor pole vault, clearing 18’ 7.5”, and was a two-time Big West Champion in the event.
The 49ers will also induct Cassie Azevedo, the highest-scoring women’s water polo player in the program’s history. With 209 goals in her career, Azevedo is the school record holder and led the 49ers in goals in both 2005 and 2006. She was also a three-time All-American, a four-time All-MPSF selection and helped the 49ers reach the No. 3 ranking during the 2005 campaign.
Finally representing women’s volleyball will be four-time All-American Alexis Crimes. The 2006 Big West Player of the Year, Crimes was one of the most productive hitters in school history, ranking third all-time in career kills with 1,756 behind only Tara Cross and Danielle Scott, also Hall Of Fame members. Crimes hit .364 in her career as a dominant middle blocker and has continued her career playing with USA Volleyball and internationally.
For more information on tickets and the Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, please contact the 49er Athletic Department at (562) 985-7976.
It appears shortshop Troy Tulowitzki will return from injury in time to play in the All-Star Game. But will it be in time to save the Rockies’ season? Colorado’s record was an ugly 9-16 in 25 games Tulo missed with a cracked rib. But as the team opens a critical National League West series against the Dodgers, Colorado stood only 3.5 games out of first place in the division.
Can Colorado still win this thing? Pains me to say it, but I think the West has been won. Not by Arizona, which currently resides atop the division. The prohibitive favorite is Los Angeles, because in a mediocre division, the Dodgers boast the best hitter (Yasiel Puig) and best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw). Listen to Peter Burns and I argue it out here.
What do you think? Has Tulowitzki returned in time to rescue the dream of Colorado in the playoffs?
PHOENIX — For a team with a losing record and rebounding from a 98-loss season, the Rockies still have plenty of star power.
Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez became just the third and fourth Rockies players voted to start the All-Star Game for the National League when the final ballots were announced Saturday. It’s the first time the Rockies have a had two players voted as starters. Outfielder Michael Cuddyer was chosen as a reserve.
Tulowitzki (5,408,860 million votes) easily bested San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford at shortstop, never relenting a large lead he gained early in the process. Tulowitzki started in the 2011 as an injury replacement in Phoenix. Gonzalez is making his second consecutive all-star appearance, finishing second in the vote with 4,212,904. Gonzalez will be flanked by the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran and Washington’s Bryce Harper.
Gonzalez started a year ago when Tony La Russa chose him to lead off and serve as the designated hitter in Kansas City.
The only previous Rockies voted to start by the fans were Dante Bichette (1996), Larry Walker (1997-98-99) and Todd Helton (2001-02-03).
Though on the disabled list with a fractured right rib, Tulowitzki has not ruled out playing in the All-Star Game. He will take batting practice again Saturday and could begin a rehab assignment, possibly with Triple-A Colorado Springs, as soon as Monday. Without a setback, Tulowitzki is targeting Thursday to rejoin the Rockies’ roster for the Dodgers series, leaving him in position to bolster a struggling lineup and to participate in the Midsummer Classic.
The Rockies entered Saturday night 7-13 since Tulowitzki was hurt diving for a groundball June 13. He is batting .347 with 16 home runs and a .413 on-base percentage. Tulo, a two-time Gold Glove winner, has committed just one error in 58 games.
“It’s hard to think that he could play much better,” manager Walt Weiss said before Tulowitzki landed on the disabled list.
Despite a recent slump, Gonzalez ranks among the league leaders in several categories. He entered Saturday leading the NL with 23 home runs and ranked fourth with 62 RBIs.
“It’s an honor to go,” said Gonzalez, who plans to bring many family members and friends to the game at Citi Field on July 16.
Cuddyer, who made his second All-Star Game, has been the Rockies’ most consistent performer. He posted a baseball-best 27-game hitting streak this season, setting a Rockies’ franchise record. Cuddyer entered Saturday batting .342 with 15 home runs, 52 RBIs and a .396 on-base percentage.
Left-hander Rex Brothers, who temporarily closed games while Rafael Betancourt was sidelined with a leg injury, had a strong case as well. The reliever entered Saturday with a 1.02 ERA, had not allowed a run on the road this season and had limited opponents to a .200 average. However, the NL team went heavy with starting pitchers. Dodgers sensation Yasiel Puig is one of five players on the MLB.com Last Man Vote.
The NL starters are:
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
2B: Brandon Phillips, Reds
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B: David Wright, Mets
C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
OF: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals
OF: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
OF: Bryce Harper, Nationals
DENVER — Troy Tulowitzki strolled through the clubhouse Thursday afternoon with a bat in each hand.
It was a welcome sign for Walt Weiss and Co., as the Rockies shortstop took batting practice before Thursday’s series finale against the Dodgers for the first time since he broke a right rib three weeks ago. Tulowitzki said he has not ruled out returning before the July 16 All-Star Game, but emphasized that he will not rush the recovery process.
“There could be three or four days where I feel great and say, ‘Hey, let’s go on the rehab assignment,’” Tulowitzki said. “It could be another week or two where, ‘Hey, now this thing feels good,’ after the [All-Star] break. I just don’t know.”
Weiss said he would not hold Tulowitzki back if he does feel ready before the All-Star break. The skipper looked on as his star slugger took a few swings and agreed everything went smoothly in the latest step in the rehab process.
“I’m all for that, if he’s good to go before the break,” Weiss said. “We’re not going to hold our breath to that, but if that were the case, that would be great.”
Despite taking what he called “very easy swings” on the field, Tulowitzki still smoked a few balls over the left-field wall. It was just a taste of competitive baseball but enough for him showed more than just a hint of excitement to have a bat back in his hands.
“I came away very happy about it — it’s not like I had to stop and say, ‘It’s too much pain,’” he said. ” … Now it’s all about getting treatment and taking steps in the right direction.”
Weiss said Tulowitki will join them on an upcoming 10-game road trip, which includes series against three National League West teams. He will be re-evaluated each day on the trip, his workouts and activity increased accordingly.
Tulowitki, who injured the rib diving for a ground ball, has been fielding grounders before the game for several days. He said he has fieldd without discomfort but did feel tightness when swinging.
“Defensively, I’m fine,” said Tulowitzki, who was in the midst of an MVP-type season with a .347 average, 16 homers and 51 RBIs through 61 games. “Right now I can throw the ball and field the ball, it’s just all in the swing. I’ll know. Once the ball has a little extra carry and there’s less pain, it should be ready.”
Despite missing the last three weeks, Tulowitzki still held a comfortable lead in the All-Star voting among shortstops and said he probably will attend the All-Star Game at New York’s Citi Field if he wins the fan vote, even he is not fit to play.
DENVER — Dripping with sweat and brimming with hope, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki came off the field after taking ground balls Saturday morning and said he is ready to increase the intensity of his rehab from a broken rib — if cleared by the team’s training and medical staffs.
To move closer to that point, Tulowitzki took about 20 swings, some off the tee and some short-toss, in the batting cage Saturday afternoon.
Saturday morning marked the first time Tulowitzki took grounders off the bat. Friday afternoon, he took some rolled to him from a short distance. The movement and throwing didn’t cause any major problems. Tulowitzki also planned to take a limited number of swings off the tee Saturday. On Friday, he felt some pressure in his ribs while taking 10 swings, but Saturday he was able to increase the activity.
“It went well — it was not intense or anything but it was going through the motions and getting a feel for it,” Tulowitzki said. “I wasn’t letting it go, but there was nothing that was bothering me. It was a step in the right direction.”
Tulowitzki, who was injured June 13 while diving for a ground ball, is faithfully reporting how he feels to the training staff. The next hurdle will be clearance from doctors. The results of a yet-to-be-scheduled MRI will determine when that clearance comes.
“Believe me, I’ve been bugging them about it more than you guys have been bugging them about it,” said Tulowitzki, who going into Saturday’s play was tied with teammate Michael Cuddyer for second in the National League in hitting at .347 and was leading the league in slugging percentage at .635.
“There’s kind of a plan to this thing, how they’re going to attack it. Since day one of this year, I’ve listened to them. But I feel good. I have no problems defensively throwing and moving around. The big thing is my legs feel good. I’ve missed a lot of time, so my legs feel fresh.”
Leg muscle injuries have derailed Tulowitzki in the past. A right groin injury last year required surgery in June, and he missed the rest of the season. The Rockies have monitored Tulowitzki’s activity to prevent recurrence of those injuries, and they’re applying the same caution to his rehab from the rib injury.
“Tulo looks great,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “Defensively there are no issues. He feels it a little bit on certain throws but he looks great moving around out there. I think he’s supposed to get another MRI here shortly and that’ll tell us the plan of action.”
WASHINGTON — Jonathan Herrera ambled to his right and stabbed at the groundball as it ricocheted off his body into left field Thursday night. He recovered to make a good throw, but the run scored.
Troy Tulowitzki would have made that play.
It’s impossible not to think in terms of his absence when the Rockies falter so badly. They began their latest season-defining road trip by going Oh(fer)! Canada, then serving as a chew toy for Nationals ace Jordan Zimmermann.
The Rockies put on a brave face when discussing Tulowitzki’s absence of four to six weeks. He will be missed. But others would step forward. A week later, all they have done is trip on the top stair. There are plausible explanations, of course. This year notwithstanding, the Rockies stink on the road. They ran into a surging Blue Jays team with arguably baseball’s hottest bullpen. The Nationals’ starting pitchers are better than their starting pitchers.
Set aside the statistics for a moment. What the Rockies miss is Tulo’s edge. He’s a Gold Glove shortstop who hits cleanup. He is like a quarterback, capable of camouflaging other weaknesses. He’s not the most-liked guy. And that’s one of the reasons he’s the most valuable. He brings energy to stretching, to batting practice, to the seventh inning with a runner on first and a double play is necessary with a missile throw. He makes others around him better — especially Carlos Gonzalez, as the left fielder has admitted on numerous occasions.
In Tulo’s career, the Rockies are 117-150 without him. That’s a reflection of his value and his frustration with a body that has betrayed him.
More than any other baseball player I have covered, he imposes his will on a game. It’s hard to do so in baseball. The ball isn’t in your hand like in basketball. He can’t call his favorite play like a quarterback. He has to wait for the game to come to him, and deliver in bursts when it does.
This isn’t an indictment of Herrera, DJ LeMahieu or Josh Rutledge. They aren’t Tulo. Brock Osweiler is not Peyton Manning.
Tulowitzki, who broke the fifth rib on his right side making a diving stop of a groundball, is expected to begin playing catch and possibly swing a fungo bat Monday. If all goes well, he could be back just after the all-star break. But there’s no way of knowing until he swings a bat and throws off balance.
The Rockies refuse to panic because they look at their division and don’t see a team that’s capable of cycling away from the peloton. There’s merit in that view, because every National League West club is flawed.
But the Rockies can’t count on the mediocrity of others to save their season. They have reached a critical juncture. Covering for Tulo’s statistics falls in many laps, namely that of Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, Wilin Rosario and Michael Cuddyer, who deserves all-star consideration.
The Rockies need their starting pitchers to win a few games by themselves to spare what is an inconsistent offense. And they need a jolt. Bringing up Corey Dickerson is a start. Keeping Fowler, CarGo and Cuddyer healthy is vital.
Tulo isn’t coming back for at least a month. It’s one of those things you don’t want to think about in Scottsdale, Ariz., when applying sunblock. No one should be surprised if Tulo’s return energizes the Rockies.
But with 17 games against the Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Padres leading into the all-star break, the Rockies must avoid a dead battery that even human jumper cables can’t fix.
Star shortstop one of three Colorado stars forced to exit with injury
DENVER — An MRI on Thursday night showed that Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has a broken rib on his right side, according to a Major League source, and is headed for the disabled list.
Tulowitzki suffered 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.
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,” said Weiss about 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 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 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 will most likely 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.