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Tulowitzki called up from Tulsa

Top pick expected to start at shortstop for Rockies
August 30, 2006
DENVER -- Rockies manager Clint Hurdle no doubt will discuss on Wednesday his excitement over the arrival of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, the club's No. 1 pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

But after Tuesday night's 10-5 loss to the Mets, Hurdle announced at the end of an animated postgame news conference that Tulowitzki was being promoted from Double-A Tulsa.

Clint Barmes, who was the primary shortstop the past two seasons and will not be excited to see Tulowitzki, was eager to get the questions out of the way. Barmes' .226 batting average, with seven home runs and 54 RBIs, earned him a ticket to utility duty.

"Obviously, I haven't done what I've needed to do at the plate," Barmes said. "Defensively, this has been my best year. I'm very happy and pleased with the way I've played defensively.

"But I don't think that I'm a .220 hitter. Obviously, numbers for this full season have shown that, so I've got to come back and prove that I can play and hit at this level. The stats, that's all the facts right there you need. So he's going to come up and he's going to get his opportunity the same way I got mine."

Tulowitzki, 21, from Long Beach State, will be celebrated. In his first full professional season, Tulowitzki batted .291 with 13 home runs and 61 RBIs in 104 games at Tulsa. Tulowitzki missed action from June 19-30 with a knee problem, but he did participate in the Futures Game during All-Star weekend in Pittsburgh.

If the Rockies start Tulowitzki against the Mets on Wednesday, it will mark the quickest Minor League apprenticeship (126 games) of any position player drafted by the club in its history.

Like catcher Chris Iannetta, who made his Major League debut on Sunday after being drafted in the fourth round in 2004, Tulowitzki spent part of the winter working out with the Rockies' Major Leaguers at Coors Field. Tulowitzki and Iannetta also participated in Major League Spring Training.

Before announcing Tulowitzki's promotion, Hurdle said jobs were on the line. The Rockies have gone with their current lineup for the better part of two seasons, but a 61-70 record despite good pitching has Colorado looking for upgrades.

"We're not a finished product," said Hurdle, who at times spat out his words while discussing the offensive shortcomings of the club. "We've got areas to improve upon. We need guys that have had good campaigns to finish up strong.

"We've got guys that have left some question marks on the table (that need) to clean them off for the respect of the league, the respect of the people in our division, the respect of our fans."

Barmes played second base for nine games, including eight starts, in 2004, but otherwise has been at short.

After raising some defensive questions last season, during which he batted .289 in a season that was interrupted by an absence of nearly three months with a collarbone injury, Barmes has been steady with the glove this season. After sticking with Barmes based on his defense at midseason, the Rockies have decided to get a look at Tulowitzki, who received a $2.3 million bonus after being selected seventh overall in 2005.

"I was told that I might move around a little bit, so I'll throw whatever knowledge I can to him and be the best teammate that I can be, like I feel I've always done," Barmes said. "I take pride in that.

"I can't say I'm extremely happy. I feel like I've always wanted to play shortstop. That's what I've always wanted to do. I might be playing more of a utility role. There's not much I can say about it. You look at the stats, they say it all themselves."

To make room for Tulowitzki on the active roster, the Rockies optioned utility man Luis Gonzalez (.243, two home runs, 14 RBIs) to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for