TAMPA — Skip the falling-in-love process.
Three spring training games are not enough to even fall in like, especially when it comes to a 34-year-old shortstop who hasn’t played a big-league game since July 28, 2017.
Yet, scouts are seeing positive signs Troy Tulowitzki can help the Yankees, and it has more to do with what he’s done in the field than with his bat, which has already produced two homers and four RBIs.
“You watch him go into the hole to make a play, and that tells you something because that takes twisting and turning of his lower half and that has been a problem for him,” a scout said. “I know it’s early, but if you are the Yankees, you have to feel good.”
When the Yankees signed Tulowitzki for the major league minimum of $555,000 after the Blue Jays released him despite owing him $38 million, they hoped he could play shortstop well enough to make up for the loss of Didi Gregorius for at least two months and possibly more as Gregorius rehabs his right elbow following Tommy John surgery.
Even if Tulowitzki stays healthy, he isn’t going to play short every day. When he doesn’t, the plan is for Gleyber Torres to shift from second to shortstop. While short is the position Torres played coming through the Cubs’ system, scouts noticed last year that his footwork wasn’t good at short, where he made five errors in 21 games.
“He looks like he can get into his legs better than the last couple of years in Toronto,” a scout said of Tulowitzki, who has been on the injured list 10 times in 12 big-league seasons, often with lower-half issues. “I have been very impressed. He is much livelier than in Toronto. He made a play on a slow chopper the other day that was a classic Tulo play.”
Scouts scout tools and bodies, but for one it is easy to see something else working with Tulowitzki.
“He is a very competitive guy, and he was embarrassed by getting released. He wants to show [Blue Jays president and CEO Mark] Shapiro that he can still play for a very good team and not a s–t team.”
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