Tulo Fans

One of the keys to his acceptance of being with a new team is his two-year-old son, Taz. Tulowitzki believed if Taz is able to move on, turn the page and love the Jays, then so could he.
DUNEDIN—There was real concern last season that star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was not thrilled to be with the Blue Jays following the shocking trade-deadline deal with the Rockies that fuelled Toronto’s wild ride down the stretch to the post-season.

But now, it seems he’s all-in.

One of the keys to his acceptance of being with a new team is his two-year-old son, Taz. Tulowitzki believed if Taz is able to move on, turn the page and love the Jays, then so could he.

“(Taz) was at that age where he didn’t know or have a relationship with too many guys on the Rockies,” Tulowitzki said. “Now, when he thinks about baseball, he’s saying J.D. (Josh Donaldson) or (Jose) Bautista. That made it easy. As soon as I heard those, as soon as those names came out of his mouth, I said ‘Okay, this transition is a lot easier for him than it is for me.’ That made me happy.”

There were other circumstances not related to geography that dampened his joy last year. There was his time on the disabled list. It was difficult for Tulowitzki when his teammates were out on the field moving closer and closer to a division title and he was stuck on the DL with a divot in his shoulder from Kevin Pillar’s chin. His metamorphosis into a Blue Jay began in the final series in Tampa, when he was able to take full batting practice in preparation for his return. His spirits were lifted by the number of teammates who came out of the clubhouse to watch him take hacks in early afternoon.

“Anytime your teammates show support and get behind you, you’re pleased with that,” Tulowitzki recalled. “So that was awesome. As far as my comfort level here, I think just getting an off-season to soak in everything that happened and digest it and really get over it . . . I think that really happened this off-season. I became closer to my teammates and it’s a good relationship now. I’m excited to be here and I’m excited for this year.”

The reality of relationships in sports is that they no longer need be interrupted when the season ends and be picked up again later. Jays players, following the devastating Game 6 ALCS loss to the Royals, stayed in touch often and grew their friendships over the winter.

“I’m not a big social media guy myself,” Tulowitzki said. “I don’t have Twitter or Instagram or anything like that, but I do have phone numbers and I do text a lot and we do talk. We have group chats. We really have fun with that. Fantasy Football’s another way we grow closer and there are so many different avenues to have contact with teammates. You definitely are closer because of that.”

Tulowitzki has become a good influence on younger guys like second-baseman Ryan Goins and centre fielder Pillar. He’s doing for them what Rockies veterans like Matt Holliday and Todd Helton did for him in his first couple of seasons in the majors.

It’s about leading by example.

“For me it wasn’t too much different, just because I was always trying to hang around those veteran players that were real good in the game,” Tulowitzki explained. “What kept us close (with Rockies veterans) was that, obviously their work ethic was really strong. I’d like to say that at a young age I had had that work ethic and wanted to stay around those guys to get myself better. They did a good job of really teaching me the game and welcoming me.”

As a defensive shortstop, Tulowitzki believes in finish, not flash. He ranks first in MLB history in fielding percentage for a shortstop ahead of Omar Vizquel, Jimmy Rollins and J.J. Hardy. He makes routine plays look effortless and difficult plays look easy. He keeps the game in front of him.

“Every once in a while, maybe you’re going to get the flashy plays from me,” Tulowitzki said “But I think more than anything else you’re going to see me protect the baseball and you’re going to see a pitcher out there confident when the groundball’s hit to me. That’s what I want. That stuff your teammates see and it becomes part of their game and then it makes your whole defence better.”

Despite his well-documented offensive struggles with the Jays last year, over the course of his 10-year major-league career he has been to five all-star games, earned three top-10 MVP finishes, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers. Playing hurt in the post-season, Tulowitzki did not collect many hits, but when he did they seemed to be huge and win games.

“I’m not a guy to make excuses, but it was a difficult transition,” Tulowitzki said.

“I think that played a huge part in some of, I don’t know if it’s struggles or I just wasn’t myself, I felt like. But the post-season, I had been there before and I wanted to come through. I think I came up with some good at-bats and came up with some key hits. You really feel like you’re contributing and really part of the team. I was definitely happy about that.”

Jays manager John Gibbons took care of one lingering issue when he said Tulowitzki would bat fifth in the Jays’ powerful order and would not be considered for leadoff, as when he joined the club.

“It wasn’t tough,” Tulowitzki said of batting leadoff, a role he had never played in his career. “I just think I was better in that (fifth-place) role and I think he probably likes me in those RBI situations and protecting Eddie (Encarnacion) and I’m fine with it. I’m fine with anywhere I hit.

“My job is to go out there and help our team win games.”

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Entering his first full spring training with the Toronto Blue Jays, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki‘s health and comfort should return him to elite status in 2016 (as if he left)
Troy Tulowitzki is finally feeling a little more at home with the Toronto Blue Jays after a 2015 deadline deal uprooted him from the familiar surroundings of Colorado. Even with 41 regular season and 11 playoff games with the Jays in 2015, the coming season should be a debut of the real Tulo.

“Coming to spring training and knowing the coaches and the organization a little bit and some of my teammates has definitely made this transition a little bit easier,” the 31-year-old told Shi Davidi in Dunedin this week.

With six seasons of a 5.0+ WAR since 2007, Tulowitzki is undeniably one of the game’s great shortstops. An underwhelming start to his Blue Jays career does not change that, and coming off a 2014 season in which he posted a 5.2 WAR in just 91 games, it’s not yet time to worry about Father Time. At all.

Tulowitzki is now hoping to get back across the 130 game plateau that he’s crossed just three times as a major league player, and with some swing developments that are causing an offseason buzz, there’s ample reason to be excited for what the coming summer could hold.

“Every off-season I try to get myself better as a player,” Tulowitzki told Davidi. “I know I can be a way better offensive player than I was (in Toronto), I went through a few things and changed some things up to try and better myself. There’s a little bit of a leg kick in there, but some of the stuff I do up top is real similar.”

Beyond the mammoth ceiling of his bat and glove, there’s the still-underrated impact of Tulowitzki in the clubhouse. For those of you who fill the winter baseball void with hockey, consider Tulowitzki to be the Jonathan Toews of the Toronto Blue Jays.


Much of what has transformed the Blue Jays clubhouse in to a great strength is the balance they now have. From the stoic Jose Bautista to the warm and thoughtful R.A. Dickey, from the off-the-walls Marcus Stroman to the strong and silent type in Tulo, all of the pieces fit.

Keep in mind that Tulowitzki has five years remaining on his contract with a team option that would take him through his age-36 season.

Jose Bautista is on an expiring contract, as you may have heard. The same goes for Edwin Encarnacion, and while Josh Donaldson just inked a two-year deal with one arbitration year remaining beyond that, Tulowitzki appears to be here for the long(est) haul.

After the 2016 of Tulo, everyone will be left feeling a little better about that.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. – There’s a normalcy to being with the Toronto Blue Jays now that’s making Troy Tulowitzki feel more comfortable this spring than he did last year following his acquisition from the Colorado Rockies.

The stunning trade, coming after assurances he wouldn’t be moved, turned his world upside down, and after the Game 6 loss to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series, he told a small group of reporters that parachuting into another club’s season made it hard to feel settled.

Some four months later, with time to properly digest the changes both professionally and personally, and deepen the friendships he developed during a frenzied run to an AL East crown, the all-star shortstop is home.

“Coming to spring training and knowing the coaches and the organization a little bit and some of my teammates has definitely made this transition a little bit easier. So, that’s nice,” he said during an interview on a stormy Wednesday. “I made it known a couple times that (the transition last year) wasn’t that easy just because I’d been in Colorado so long. But now that I look back at it, I’m a firm believer that things do happen for a reason, and I’m definitely happy to be here and I can’t wait to start the year.”

Among the things Tulowitzki is looking forward to is a break from the trade rumours that dogged him during his final seasons with the rebuilding Rockies, who gave him a $157.75-million, 10-year extension in 2010. Former general manager Alex Anthopoulos managed to pry him and now retired reliever LaTroy Hawkins away for pitching prospects Jeff Hoffman, Miguel Castro and Jesus Tinoco plus shortstop Jose Reyes, a turn of events Tulowitzki said last October made it “tough for me now to trust anybody in this game.”

Then came the front-office turnover in Toronto, as Anthopoulos left just as Mark Shapiro took over from Paul Beeston as president, leading to the hire of Ross Atkins as general manager.

“You know what the game is about, anything can happen at any point in time, but I did find it a little awkward that Alex was the guy who came and got me and then talking about things we were going to do here in the long haul and how this organization is going to run,” said Tulowitzki. “Then all of a sudden he goes off somewhere else, but it wasn’t by his choice, I don’t think, obviously things didn’t work out. I think we’re in good hands with the new people running the organization. Bottom line, the people in this locker-room here, the players, is what is going to win us games.”

How long this group remains together beyond 2016 has been a focal point so far this spring, as the Blue Jays have 10 pending free agents including franchise cornerstones Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. But while there is longer-term uncertainty, in Tulowitzki’s eyes that’s not all negative, either.

“It will be interesting, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “We can really use it to benefit us because sometimes you get a little bit more from them because they are hitting the market, and I think that’s going to be the case with some of these guys.

“They’re going to have some big years because they know what’s at stake.”

Regardless, Tulowitzki will play a pivotal role in the team’s fate this year.

Manager John Gibbons praised his contributions following his acquisition last season, describing him succinctly as “a very professional player.”

Still, while he provided stellar defense and helped fortify a dedicated and driven clubhouse following his arrival, Tulowitzki slumped at the plate, slashing .239/.317/.380 in 41 games with the Blue Jays, well off the .300/.348/.471 he delivered in 41 games with the Rockies beforehand.

To that end, he’s been experimenting with moving from a toe-tap to a leg kick as the trigger for his swing, a product of his regular discussions about hitting with Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista.

“Every off-season I try to get myself better as a player,” Tulowitzki said. “I know I can be a way better offensive player than I was (in Toronto), I went through a few things and changed some things up to try and better myself. There’s a little bit of a leg kick in there, but some of the stuff I do up top is real similar.”

If the end result pushes him toward the slash line of .297/.369/.508 he’s posted over a 10-year career, a Blue Jays lineup already bulging with mashers will become even more imposing. And the offence will need to help carry the load if he’s to reach his ultimate goal.

“I want to win a ring, bottom line,” he said. “All I care about is winning, going to the playoffs, year-in and year-out. Really, winning a ring is something I value the most.”

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Changing up anything in your swing could be a risky move. In this case, it’s a move of improvement, or at least that’s what Troy Tulowitzki is hoping for.

The Toronto Blue Jays shortstop recently added a new leg kick to his batting stance and getting rid of his old “toe tap.” This method is used to get his timing down and support his bat speed. The stance is also used by two of the team’s best hitters in Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista.

In his article about Tulo’s newest addition, Ian Hunter of the Blue Jays Hunter compares the old and new swings side-by-side.


Unless you look intently, it’s difficult to see any changes, but after a while you can see the toe tap in his old stance on the left.

“The main different in Troy Tulowitzki’s swing (which is well illustrated in the GIF) is the noticeable leg kick he’s now using,” Hunter explained to me in an interview. “This is a timing method which Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson have used with great success and it’s helped turn their careers completely around.”

Hunter adds that prior to spring training, the five-time All-Star employed the method to generate more power.

“It leaves the player more susceptible to breaking balls,” says Hunter. “The potential trade off here for Tulowitzki is he may end up trading some home runs and power to the gap for strikeouts.”

Connor Dawson is the lead hitting instructor at Premier Baseball in Kansas City. He told me he noticed a lot of different movements in Tulo’s swing.

“I think a switch for the leg kick would be extremely beneficial to Tulo considering the power arms of the AL East, in particular the Yankees,” he says. “It will allow him to see the ball better.”

Dawson says you can also notice Tulowitzki points the tip of his barrel towards the batter.

“Something Josh Donaldson is known for which creates more barrel turn and more power.”

“These two changes along with Tulo being known as a very hard swinger could make for a very dangerous hitter this year,” explains Dawson.

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The news for the Toronto Blue Jays on Troy Tulowitzki is as good as can be under the circumstances – there’s a chance the star shortstop could return to play this year. This thing, at the moment, is something they can not have. With those absences, the AL East-leading Blue Jays (82-61) couldn’t complete a four-game sweep of the second-place Yankees, losing 5-0.

“The level that would be, no one really knows, and it could be more than (minimal) if he doesn’t heal fast”, Anthopoulos said. For game one against the Braves the Blue Jays start Mark Buehrle who has allowed 184 hits and 72 earned runs while striking out 80 over 174.1 innings for a 14-7 record and a 3.72 ERA.

Tulowitzki backpedaled into short centre to catch Didi Gregorius’ popup with two outs.

Instead, Tulowitzki toppled to the ground only after he felt a sharp pain, the result of Pillar’s chin digging into his shoulder blade.

Tulowitzki at first held the ball and transferred it to his right hand as he collided with Pillar, then seemed to be stunned and fell to the field as the ball rolled out of his hand. Tulowitzki initially thought he’d been elbowed. “I don’t come out of the game unless something was wrong”. He has never even come close to being an average hitter — his career-high wRC+ is just 79. “I still expect us to be a very good defensive team”. Tulowitzki will remain with the team as he rehabs. Everyone is to be a part of this sprint to the playoffs. Being around them everyday, when you lose one person it can affect the team. “Get as much treatment as I possibly can and, you know, try to look on the bright side and hopefully I can make a comeback”.

Despite having yet to find his groove at the plate since coming over from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for veteran Jose Reyes and pitching prospect Jeff Hoffman in a blockbuster deal, Tulowitski has still managed to be a difference maker since arriving in Toronto. Replacing Tulowitzki with Cliff Pennington, who’ll get the majority of reps at second base as Goins moves to shortstop, isn’t idea. “Since Cespedes played his first game with the Metropolitans on August”.

Not surprisingly, the Blue Jays’ offense looked nowhere near as imposing against New York in the series finale with both Encarnacion and Tulowitzki out of the starting lineup.

Barney spent most of 2015 playing in Triple-A Oklahoma City, and saw action in just two games for the Dodgers this season.

“He’s a great glove, he’s a right-handed bat, good teammate as well, he’s going to fit into our clubhouse, but our big thing is we want to stay as strong defensively up the middle as we can”, said Anthopoulos. “Barney, from everything we have (from our scouts), from a defensive standpoint is every bit as good as Goins”. The second baseman’s hit tool and some power translated to the major league level this season, as Travis slashed.304/.361/.498 with eight home runs and 35 RBI in 238 at-bats. During the nightcap, Toronto said he sustained a small crack to his scapula and upper back muscle bruising.

Source: Bulletin Leader