Tulowitzki shines on special weekend

TEMPE, Ariz. -- For the first time in a while, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki cut loose around the bag -- in a jaw-dropping way -- and in the batter's box on Saturday afternoon.

Tulowitzki scorched a double to left off Angels starter Jason Vargas in the top of the second, took a glove-hand flip from diving second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and made a spinning pivot and leaping throw to complete a double play to end the bottom of the second. But Saturday won't be remembered for either of those plays.

Tulowitzki clubbed the first Vargas pitch of his second at-bat over the grassy knoll behind the left-field wall and out of Tempe Diablo Stadium. The big performance and the 8-6 Rockies' victory were part of a special weekend for Tulowitzki, who is hosting 18 patients from Children's Hospital Colorado -- along with their caregivers, doctors and hospital staff -- that he flew down for the weekend.

"That ball went a long way," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It was a tad up and he got to it. It was firm. It's pretty special, a shortstop doing that."

The performance was a reminder of the player Rockies fans barely saw last year. Tulowitzki suffered an injury to his left groin during the first series of the season and limped along until late May, when he went on the disabled list. He would eventually undergo surgery to remove scar tissue and miss the remainder of the season.

"All signs are good that when we get started [with the regular season], he's going to be rolling," Weiss said. "A lot of the first three weeks for him have been about gaining confidence physically that he can do the things he needs to do, specifically at the position. It's a demanding spot."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.