SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki arrived for his first day of informal workouts at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick with an 8x10 of Yankees captain Derek Jeter placed in his locker. It would be great if the picture had been a superstar-to-star gift, but not quite.
"I got it just at the mall or something," Tulowitzki said.
Still, Tulowitzki feels connected to his baseball idol.
Tulowitzki, now considered the Majors' best two-way shortstop and a direct descendent of the line of bigger shortstops that Jeter is a part of, wears No. 2 for a reason beyond the fact it seems fitting beneath his name.
"Ever since I've known baseball, even as a kid, he's been involved," said Tulowitzki. "To hear that it's his last year is upsetting, because I'm such a big fan of his and appreciate what he's done for the game.
"At the same time, I'm happy for him. There comes a time when everybody has to say, 'Hey, this is my last year.' To be able to do it on his own terms, to come out before the season and say it like that, not too many guys get that opportunity. He's a legend, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, maybe the first guy to get 100 percent [of the vote]. I can go on and on about him. He's a special, special person."
Tulowitzki is not close to Jeter, but he said he is honored to get a step closer to him than most. Tulowitzki has worked at Jeter's baseball camp as an instructor.
"I wouldn't say very well, but I do know him," Tulowitzki said. "I've met him a couple of times, talked to him a couple of times. I'm just kind of a fan from afar. I compete when I'm on the field against him, but at the same time, have the utmost respect.
"It's a different level. You can go around the league and talk to people that are the best players, and they speak a different language. They got to that level for a reason."