COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The pain has not gone away for Troy Tulowitzki or Dexter Fowler. But as the Rockies fight to stay in the National League West race, neither could resist the urge to push through the remaining pain and help their club.
Fowler and Tulowitzki shared the diamond for the first time since June on 13 Monday night, only this time it came at Security Service Field instead of Coors Field as both made their first rehab starts with the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.
Donning their usual Rockies gear pregame -- the only recognizable change a bright red hat emblazoned with the Sky Sox logo -- the two Rockies stars chatted with their new teammates as a group of diehards gathered behind home plate and flipped on their cellphone cameras for batting practice.
Nearly a month removed from competitive baseball, Tulowitzki showed his bat still had plenty of life when he smacked a single into center field in the first off Sacramento RiverCats starter Arnold Leon. He scored the Sky Sox first run later after back-to-back singles and flew out to right just short of the warning rack in his second and final at-bat.
Just 25 days removed from breaking his rib while diving for a ground ball, Tulowitzki smoothly fielded two routine grounders without any sign of duress. Wearing a protective pad over his ribs, he did let an infield single roll by him in the second inning.
That play was the only one in which Tulowitzki appeared to hold back as he continues to nurse what he said feels like a "bone bruise" on his right side.
"That's why I play this game, to push it a little bit," said Tulowitzki, who hit in the two-hole and left after the top of the third. "So, there's definitely some soreness there. It feels like a bone bruise, but hey, sometimes you got to play through some pain in this game. If I'm good enough to perform and help my team win, you better believe I'm going to be out there."
Hitting from his usual spot atop the order, Fowler grounded out in his first two trips to the plate before drawing a two-out walk in the fourth. Drew Garcia -- who grabbed Tulowitzki's spot at shortstop upon his departure -- then ripped an RBI single to move Fowler to third, but he did not score.
Fowler struck out looking in his final at-bat, finishing 0-for-3, leaving after six innings despite being scheduled to play seven.
"He just had enough," Sky Sox manager Glenallen Hill said. "Typically, in long games like this when guys are on rehab, you have to use a little common sense. Had the game not been so long, he probably would have played an entire seven, but being that it was a long game, I was OK with him coming out."
As he recovers from a right lower hand/wrist injury, Fowler plans to rejoin the team Thursday when he's eligible to come off the disabled list. He will likely play a full nine innings on Tuesday, his final rehab start.
"[Feeling] a lot better," Fowler said before the game. "It's good to be back on the field. Swung two days ago and still had a little bit of pain, but like 'Tulo' was saying, sometimes you got to go answer the bell."
Tulowitzki confirmed that he will not play in the All-Star Game, for which he led voting among shortstops, unless he suits up for the Rockies first. He also said the timetable for his return to the big leagues remains unclear, and he will call the Rockies' staff after each game to update them on how he feels.
"My plan all along was to try to come back as quick as I could," Tulowitzki said. "So, right now, I think I'm in a good timetable to make it one of the faster recoveries. But at the same time, I have these games in front of me -- who knows.
"When I feel good I'll be back up there. I'm not going to lie to these guys and if I don't feel good go up there just because I think I can help the team."
The Rockies, 7-15 since Tulowitzki's injury, have sunk to a season-low five games under .500 entering play Monday. Ready to jumpstart an offense in dire need of help (the Rockies scored only two runs in a three-game sweep against the division-leading D-backs), Fowler and Tulowitzki see a run on the horzion.
"Everybody else has had their win streaks or whatnot and we still haven't had ours," Fowler said. "We've had our ruts, but we haven't had our runs. So, we're excited about it and I think everybody's ready to get back out and healthy."
• Tulowitzki and Fowler both took five rounds of batting practice before the game, and by the end of it, each was driving the ball out of hitter-friendly Security Service Field.
• Tulowitzki took batting practice Thursday for the first time since breaking a right rib and started with easy swings Monday. However, he did not appear to hold back in the later sessions, at one point crushing three consecutive home runs. Fowler got off to a slow start, but sent multiple balls over the wall in his final round of BP.
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less