Keep Tulo Out Of The WBC, Please


The Colorado Rockies received good news this week. They learned that catcher Wilin Rosario and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will not participate in the World Baseball Classic. Ramon Hernandez and Carlos Gonzalez will take part. I am indifferent to the potential injury risk for Hernandez (no disrespect); let’s just hope that CarGo’s lackadaisical approach to playing left field carries over into the WBC. We don’t need him crashing into walls or anything for exhibition games before the MLB season even starts.

Can somebody explain to me why Adam Ottavino gets it and Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t? Ottavino explained his decision to not compete for the WBC for Team Italy as follows: “Just too important a year for me. I want to put my best foot forward in spring.” Shouldn’t we be hearing that from Tulo? You remember him…the team leader, the best player on the team, the guy with the $140 million contract, the face of the franchise who missed virtually the entire 2012 season? Doesn’t Ottavino’s quote sound like what Tulo should be saying?

Tulo is off of the USA roster…for now. Image: Kelley L Cox-USA Today Sports

This is definitely Tulo’s most important season. He’s got some stuff to prove, whether that is fair or not. Besides the chance to represent his country, he explained his desire to play for the United States in the WBC as an opportunity to play in heated, competitive games before Spring Training. He saw it as a chance to prove he was ready to go at 100% game speed before opening day.

I think that explanation is flimsy on the face of it. Forgive me for being impatient with our franchise player, but I am not terribly interested in hearing about his need to ease back into “full speed” action. This dude has aspirations to be the greatest Rockie of all time, to be an MVP, and perhaps to be a Hall of Famer. He gets held to a different standard because he wants to be held to a different standard. Right now, coming off of another injury-plagued season and with his franchise in complete disarray, the WBC is a potential hindrance to those goals.

It is not paranoid or overly cautious to think in terms of the worst case scenario here. Think of said worst case scenario: Tulo plays, re-injures himself, and misses the first two months of the season. The Rockies are in last place and 15 games out of first place before their franchise player takes the field. Tulo cannot afford that and the Rockies certainly cannot afford it. Even if there is a slim chance of the worst case scenario playing out, this just isn’t worth the risk.

Can somebody explain why Wilin Rosario gets it and Troy Tulowitzki doesn’t? Here is how Rosario explained his decision: “I won’t be playing in the WBC this year. I will be working with the pitching staff and we have a lot of work to do.” Everybody on the Rockies has a lot of work to do. There are a handful of players for whom this work is especially important. Tulo is one of those players.

There remains an outside chance Tulo will be added to the roster. Normally I would love the idea that a member of the Rockies could be one of the best players on Team USA. Just not this offseason, and not this player.