Tulowitzki reclaiming leadership role

Tulowitzki reclaiming leadership role

SAN DIEGO -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is gradually regaining his swing.

Since an 0-for-19 slump led to a two-game benching, Tulowitzki has had a hit in five of his past six games (7-for-21, .333).

The Rockies are not only happy with Tulowitzki's improving hitting, but the way he handled himself when he wasn't hitting.

One of the club's disappointments last season was how Tulowitzki, a clubhouse force on the 2007 National League champions even though he was a rookie, receded into a shell when he languished below .200 until the All-Star break.

Two injuries -- a quadriceps tendon tear and a lacerated right hand -- reduced the number of days he was present. But when he was there, he wasn't nearly as vocal. It was as if he felt his poor numbers robbed him of the right to lead. The Rockies pushed him not to let his intangibles be tied to the statistics.

"He's staying involved. ... He's looking for opportunities to make a difference, whether with the glove, on the bases or in the dugout," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.

Tulowitzki drew a walk during Monday night's seventh inning to help set up Chris Iannetta's grand slam in the Rockies' 9-6 victory over the Padres, who have lost six straight. His action played a big part in the rally, but being a leader means looking at the bigger picture of the offense.

Tulowitzki is hitting .213 but he is on the upswing. He knows he is more effective when Iannetta, hitting .196, also is producing.

"We need more players than just Todd [Helton] or [Brad] Hawpe to come through," Tulwotizki said. "It seems like me, Garrett [Atkins] and Iannetta haven't been doing the job. If we can get going, it will definitely help us."

Tulowtizki said he is approaching his potential offensively but hasn't arrived. Big swings at pitches outside the zone have been a problem, although not as much Monday. But he brings other aspects of the game daily.

"I feel good out there on defense," Tulowitzki said. "I think I've done a lot better job of holding my composure and not letting it get to me.

"But at the same time, I care a lot. I want to be better than people want me to do."

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Aaron Cook (1-1, 7.11 ERA)
The Rockies' ace performed like it in his last start, a home victory over the Padres. He carries a 12-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 21 career games, including 19 starts, against the Padres. He gave up home runs to Adrian Gonzalez and Henry Blanco in the last of his seven innings. Otherwise, he pitched scoreless ball. The Padres picked that game to rest vets David Eckstein and Scott Hairston, however, so it stands to reason the lineup facing Cook could be stronger. That might not be a bad idea, since Cook is 5-1 with a 1.69 ERA in seven appearances at PETCO.

SD: RHP Josh Geer (0-0, 5.29 ERA)
Geer got a no-decision in his last start on April 30 against the Dodgers, allowing four runs on seven hits in six innings, including a two-run home run to Orlando Hudson and a solo home run to Manny Ramirez. Mostly, though, the righty worked efficiently and got nine ground-ball outs, pitching to contact which, when he's going well, is what he does. Manager Bud Black noted that Geer maintained his poise and "battled" even after Hudson and Ramirez hit home runs. Geer needed 93 pitches to get through six innings, not nearly as efficient as he was in his first start since being recalled from Triple-A Portland when he used 86 pitches to get through seven innings.

Tidbits
Rockies nominees Helton and Jason Marquis lost out to the Marlins' Jorge Cantu for the National League Player of the Week Award for the period ending May 3. ... Monday's 9-6 victory over the Padres was their first victory in the opening game of a road series. ... Helton has had multiple hits in five of his past six contests.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
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•  Official game notes

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On radio
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Up next
• Wednesday: Rockies (Ubaldo Jimenez, 1-4, 6.58) vs. Giants (Randy Johnson, 2-2, 4.50), 6:40 p.m. MT
• Thursday: Rockies (Jason Marquis, 4-1, 3.31) vs. Giants (Matt Cain, 2-1, 3.09), 1:10 p.m. MT
• Friday: Rockies (Jason Hammel, 0-0, 3.45) vs. Marlins (Ricky Nolasco, 1-3, 7.03), 7:10 p.m. MT

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.