Troy Tulowitzki: Streaking!
No, not Frank the Tank–style jaunts through the quad. We’re talking about those seemingly miraculous occasions when a player is fully “in the zone.” See: Dock Ellis pitching a no-no on acid, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, or TROY TULOWITZKI’s two-week rampage through the NL last September. How hot was Tulo? Try 14 home runs in 15 games. Here’s the Colorado shortstop’s take on his competition, his team’s chances, feeling it at the plate.
Last September you hit about as well as anyone ever. How did it feel to be locked in like that?
There’s an old saying in baseball, when you’re going good, you try to ride those hot streaks out as long as you can. And when you’re going bad, you try to turn it around as soon as you can.
When I was going through that streak I just tried not to think about, and go out there each day continue doing what I was doing.
Ever been that hot before?
Not like that. There are obviously weeks and months where you play better than others, but for two weeks, to almost hit a home run a game? No, I don’t think I’d come close to that.
You came up in a legendary draft in 2005, with Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman, Justin Upton, Clay Bucholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Garza.
Is there any competition between you?
Well, I’m friends with a lot of those guys, so I want the best for them and I’m sure they want the best for me. I think we all look at it as less of a competition between eachother, and more like ‘Let’s make history and solidify ourselves as the best draft ever.” Take Ryan Braun. He won the Rookie of the Year, and I got second, but at the end of the day, that year my team made the World Series and I don’t think his team made the playoffs. But at the end of the day, he’s one of my best friends in the game.
Do you measure yourself against other shortstops?
Always. My goal is to be the best player in the game, and the best shortstop in the game, so I’m always keeping track of those other guys. Derek Jeter has always been my favorite player, and last year was the first time in my career that I put up better numbers than him, and it was kinda crazy. I mean, he’s my idol.
What did you make of Jeter’s contract negotiation last offseason?
I knew he wasn’t going anywhere, so I found the whole thing pretty comical. You’d see web sites where they’d show him in a Red Sox uniform or something, and I would laugh because you knew he was going back. You can’t have the Yankees with Derek Jeter! But the way he handled everything was incredible. That’s why he’s my favorite player, because he’s the true definition of a professional.
Were you surprised how quick people have been to write him off?
People don’t realize how tough this game is. One year you’re gonna be good, and one year you might not be so good. But a year earlier he was up there for the MVP, so yeah, I thought that was crazy. You’re not going to hit .300 with 20 home runs every year. That’s just not how the game works. The guys that do that, the very few, are Hall of Famers. Which Jeter is definitely going to be, too.
How about with your teammates? Last year you finished fifth in the MVP vote, and Carlos Gonzales finished third. Any competition there?
Oh definitely, and it’s a good thing too, because we’re constantly driving each other to be get better. You can’t be the best player in the game if you’re not the best player on your team.
Between you, Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez, you guys have a pretty great core. How do you like your chances this year?
Obviously, every year, your goal is to win the World Series, and with the team we have in place, and the moves we made in the offseason, I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position to win. With me, Gonzalez and Jimenez, we’ve got three players all coming into their prime and all under the team’s control for the next few years. When you have guys like that, and a good supporting cast, you want to make your run.
What’s it going to take?
Well, you can’t control luck, and sometimes there are injuries that happen that you can’t control. But the things that we can control are playing the game the right way, not worrying about individual numbers, and really buying into the team concept. At the end of the day, whether you win or lose, you want to be able to say, ‘Hey, I let it all hang out there on the field, so I can go home happy."