Blue Jays: Is there something wrong with Tulowitzki?

TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Troy Tulowitzki
TORONTO, ON - JULY 27: Troy Tulowitzki /

While he’s starting to perform a little better at the plate recently, Troy Tulowitzki has had several moments lately where he hasn’t looked like he’s 100% healthy.

Injuries and underperformance have been the major theme with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, and with no one more prominently than shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki. The 32 year old was out from April 21st to May 26th with hamstring issues, and has struggled to find a groove throughout the year.

He was 1-3 on Thursday night, bringing his season slash line to .250/.301/.379 with seven home runs and 26 RBI. Those aren’t the numbers that baseball fans have grown accustomed to expecting from the former Colorado Rockie, but he has started to swing the bat a little better of late, going 5-17 in his last five games.

That said, Tulowitzki hasn’t looked like himself lately in other areas, and there have been several plays in the last few weeks that have made me wonder how much pain he’s playing through right now. Is he at 80%? Less? At this stage I’m pretty confident that he’s nowhere near 100% anyway.

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Thursday’s series finale against the A’s gave us the most concrete evidence that I’ve witnessed yet when he attempted to score from  second base on a single to right field by Darwin Barney. A’s outfielder, Matt Joyce came up firing and made a great throw to the plate, gunning down the veteran by a mile.

It wasn’t that he was thrown out that was the most concerning, it was the lack of urgency on Tulowitzki’s face as he slid into the plate. It felt like there should have been plenty of time for him to score, but when the camera shifted to the third base line, he had plenty of distance yet to go.

My colleague, Ari Shapiro, here at Jays Journal captured my thoughts perfectly in his tweet from Thursday afternoon.

For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that Tulowitzki was running with 100% effort on that play, but I also refuse to accuse him of apathy either. If I was unfamiliar with the player, I would likely be calling for his benching because of a lack of passion. But that’s not Troy Tulowitzki, and it never has been.

Yes, this Blue Jays team has underperformed to near epic proportions, but don’t believe for a moment that they don’t care about the on field results. The fans are still filling the Rogers Centre with regularity, and it always feels good to hear 40,000 cheering with excitement, rather than grumbling, or even booing. The 5x All-Star is also well known for his leadership abilities, and there are enough other strong personalities in the clubhouse that they would speak up if anyone were phoning it in on the diamond.

To me it looks like Tulowitzki is playing through yet another injury, with the likely culprit being the hamstring that bugged him earlier in the year. If he felt a twinge with rounding third, or just knows how hard he can push it and didn’t want to go any further, I trust that he knows his body well enough to make those decisions.

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However, if that’s where things are at, then at what capacity is he playing right now? He sure didn’t look great on Thursday, so hopefully it’s nothing major for the oft-injured star.