DENVER -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki insists nothing hurts but his numbers. Tulowitzki was leading the National League in batting with a .347 average and had a 1.048 on-base-plus-slugging percentage when he broke a rib on his right side June 13.
Since returning July 11, Tulowitzki hit .202 and has 24 strikeouts against 12 walks in 95 plate appearances entering Monday night's game against the Padres at Coors Field. During a 1-9 road trip that was the worst in franchise history, Tulowitzki hit .103 with eight strikeouts. While the Rockies swept the NL Central-leading Pirates in a three-game weekend series, Tulowitzki went 1-for-8 -- though he did draw four walks.
Any slump raises questions about the health of Tulowitzki's rib cage. He has avoided diving for balls to protect himself, but he said the rib cage is no factor in his skid.
"I'm not hurting at all," Tulowitzki said. "I feel good. It's just one of those stretches you go through. That's a big part of this game. You're going to go through tough stretches where you grind out at-bats until you get back to that comfort zone. You know they're going to come. It's just a matter of when they come. Just try to weather it."
Many factors converged to help create the slump. The Rockies played four games at Atlanta's Turner Field, where Tulowitzki is a .203 career hitter. He had two games against the Pirates' A.J. Burnett, against whom he is 1-for-11. The Mets' Matt Harvey dominated Tulowitzki and the Rockies the way he has done against almost everyone on every team.
Tulowitzki has a history of streakiness, with the positive in that being that he can turn sizzling hot without warning. When it happens, pitching to him is difficult, because he crushes outside pitches yet has enough power to cover the inside part of the plate and still hit the ball a long way.
"I don't know if it's just one key," he said. "Just overall the at-bats get a little bit better as far as working counts and starting to feel comfortable in the box. The biggest thing is getting in there and being in your comfort zone, instead of, 'Is this right? Is this right?' Comfort is probably the biggest thing."
Manager Walt Weiss expects Tulowitzki to find his comfort.
"I'm not worried about 'Tulo,'" Weiss said. "He's a great hitter, and that's never going to change. Even great hitters don't get two hits every night. So I have no concern about him; I think he's going to be productive in this game until the day he leaves it."
Ian McCue is an associate reporter for MLB.com. 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.Less