Tulowitzki hopes to shake tough stretch

Tulowitzki hopes to shake slump

DENVER -- Troy Tulowitzki sat facing his locker, staring downward. In his hands was a piece of black athletic tape that he twisted and ripped and twirled. On his face was anger.

But in his mind and heart was a sense of duty. Tulowitzki, given time, would discuss his 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in the Rockies' 8-6 loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon. That's part of what a team leader does.

A ninth-inning strikeout against Jonathan Broxton came with the bases loaded. It actually was Tulowitzki's best at-bat of the day. The other strikeouts were looking, and Tulowitzki rang up an eight-pitch at-bat before swinging at a 2-2 slider.

Still, Tulowitzki is sinking. He's hitting .227 and is 3-for-38 (.080) with runners in scoring position. Tulowitzki can only hope for a better mood and better subject matter Friday night, when the Rockies meet the Padres at Coors Field in the opener of a three-game series. The Rockies are a season-low 10 games below .500.

"I had some big at-bats today, and I didn't come through," Tulowitzki said. "It's tough. I think if I come through in some of those situations, we have a better chance of winning a ballgame."

It's been a rough year for Tulowitzki, who struggled mightily out of the gate, but had some success earlier in the month. He's also fought through a slight quadriceps strain and been smoked on the left elbow by a pitch.

Manager Clint Hurdle gave him two games on the bench earlier this season to help him through a slump. He also issued a punitive benching in Atlanta after Tulowitzki fired at a first pitch after a walk, and hit into a double play. In fairness, Tulowitzki has been successful swinging at first pitches in his career, but Hurdle has emphasized taking pitches when situations call for it.

On Wednesday, all Hurdle could do was offer support and understanding. Hurdle said Tulowitzki's adjustment is relying on his hands and not putting so much body into the start of his swing.

"Now, it's game-transfer time for him," Hurdle said. "The BPs [batting practices] can't be any better, any more crisp.

"Is he pressing? Is he trying too hard? He wants to win. He wants to go out there and do good things. All our guys are in that same mode right now. Unfortunately, we're not getting things done when we need to."

Tulowitzki finished second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2007 and signed a six-year, $31 million deal. Since then, he's dealt with injuries and slumps and only small snippets of the form that earned him acclaim as the Rockies made a surprising trip to the '07 World Series.

"I don't feel like I'm helping the team, and that's tough to take," Tulowitzki said. "It would be different if we were winning games and I was struggling. It would be my own little deal to try to figure out."

Pitching matchup
COL: RHP Jason Marquis (6-3, 4.45 ERA)
The Rockies' 10-game road trip treated Marquis well, as he earned two more wins to raise his total to a team-leading six. In each of those starts, he made it into the eighth inning, giving up three total runs in 15 2/3 innings of work. He had strong command of his sinkerball in his most recent outing, as he gave up only two earned runs. He's getting the start after an off-day.

SD: RHP Josh Geer (1-1, 4.91 ERA)
Geer turned in a strong effort in his last start, on Saturday against the Cubs. Geer allowed one run on five hits over 6 2/3 innings, recording seven strikeouts and no walks. Geer got a mix of ground-ball (seven) and fly-ball (six) outs and mixed his pitches well against a lineup that can be dangerous. Aside from a solo home run to Derrek Lee, Geer didn't allow much else. The outing was quite a turnaround for a pitcher who had allowed five runs in each of his past two appearances. Geer is 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in three career starts against the Rockies.

Righty reliever Matt Daley said his sprained left foot is healing faster than he expected. Daley suffered the injury when he stepped on a bat while trying to back up home plate against the Pirates on May 17. "I thought it was going to be awhile, especially after I saw the replay," Daley said. He has thrown bullpen sessions the past two days and plans to throw a simulated game Saturday. Taylor Buchholz, out all year with a strained elbow ligament, also will throw in the simulated game Saturday. ... Righty Jason Grilli, who gave up six runs in the series with the Dodgers and has yielded runs in his past three appearances, will not be used when the Rockies are protecting a lead. From pitch selection to execution, little is working. "Jason and I have talked with some very specific target points, what he needs to take care of, as he continues to go out and get the ball," Hurdle said. "We have seen him good." Grilli is up and in the middle of the plate too much and too predictable with his fastball, Hurdle said. ... The Rockies' pitching staff has committed nine errors this season. Most of them have been hurtful. The pitching staff had 10 errors all last season. ... Seth Smith has reached on 10 of his 19 plate appearances as a pinch-hitter. ... In the past 11 games, the Rockies are 21-for-100 (.210) with runners in scoring position. Their opponents are 43-for-111 (.388).

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Up next
• Saturday: Rockies (Jason Hammel, 1-3, 4.10) vs. Padres (Chris Young, 4-2, 4.76), 6:10 p.m. MT
• Sunday: Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa, 0-5, 5.26) vs. Padres (Chad Gaudin, 1-3, 5.40), 1:10 p.m. MT
• Monday: Rockies (Aaron Cook, 3-2, 4.82) at Astros (Roy Oswalt, 1-2, 4.62), 6:05 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.