Tulowitzki gets off-day Sunday
Hurdle sits young shortstop; Barmes replaces Tulo in lineup
PHOENIX -- The digital recording of Lionel Ritchie belting the final bars of The Commodores' "Easy" blared from the Chase Field speakers as Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki stepped into the batting cage. It fit manager Clint Hurdle's message for Tulowitzki, to take it easy on Sunday afternoon.
Overeager hitting has plunged Tulowitzki into a .159 slump to start the season, so Hurdle decided to keep him out of the starting lineup for Sunday afternoon's finale against the Diamondbacks. It'll be Tulowitzki's first game out of the lineup. Clint Barmes, who went 2-for-2 off the bench in Saturday's 10-3 loss to the Diamondbacks, took his spot at short and in the No. 2 spot in the order.
The effect would be to give Tulowitzki two days to relax, since the Rockies are off Monday before beginning a three-game road set against the Padres on Tuesday.
It might work. A similar move late last April helped Tulwoitzki go from a struggling start to a .291 finish. But he didn't look like he was taking Sunday as a time to relax and get refreshed.
"Obviously, it's his decision," Tulowitzki said. "If I was to say I was happy about it, I'd be lying. I'm definitely not happy about it. I would like to be in there every single game. All I can do today is cheer on my teammates and still prepare myself to pinch-hit or do something like that. I'll take this time to try to get myself better, too."
At times he has frustrated himself by fouling off pitches he knows he should sting. That happened twice during his first at-bat Saturday against the D-backs' Dan Haren, which ended with a strikeout. At other times, he has chased pitches.
"He's honestly self-evaluated, and now it's time to take a break, probably mentally more than anything," Hurdle said. "He has had some pitches where he's just missed. He's taken a lot of check-swings and he's chasing low and chasing high. He's had a little bit of everything going on.
"We just talked about the absolutes of hitting -- No. 1, you've got to get a good read, see the ball first. Most hitters, when they're struggling or they're chasing, it's because they're wanting to hit before they see the ball."
In a little more than a year, stories of Tulowitzki's intensity have begun approaching legendary status. So when he's struggling, the easy assumption is the intensity is working against him. But left fielder Matt Holliday, with whom Tulowitzki is close, said there's no need for him to change his approach.
"Tulo's my friend and he's feeling down, obviously, but I'm not worried about Tulo," Holliday said. "That's what makes him good."
Holliday, first baseman Todd Helton and third baseman Garrett Atkins are the only Rockies to start every game so far this season.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.