Troy Tulowitzki Returns: How Will Rockies Fans React?
It’s a series that many Colorado Rockies fans have had circled on their calendars since the 2016 MLB schedule was announced. Later today, Troy Tulowitzki returns to Coors Field as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Tulowitzki, traded from the Rockies last July, has made no secret that he wasn’t a fan of how the trade was handled. One of the cornerstones of some of Colorado’s best seasons in franchise history was suddenly gone. It was seemingly a stunning move by the Rockies … both to fans and to the shortstop who rose from rookie to icon within the confines of Coors Field.
Today, he’s back … but how will be received by Colorado fans? He was an integral part of the Rockies reaching their only World Series in 2007 and again reaching the playoffs in 2009. Tulo was loved by many in the Rocky Mountain region, but there were also those who remember when he said he wasn’t interested in playing in Colorado for his entire career. Tulo also started this season by criticizing Colorado’s spring training complex, raising the ire of Nolan Arenado and others within the Rockies organization.
DJ LeMahieu, however, is adamant that Tulo deserves a warm welcome when he steps into the batters box on Monday.
“I think he’ll be received very well. He meant a lot to this team for a number of years,” said LeMahieu, who played four seasons with Tulo. “He got traded. He didn’t decide to go anywhere.
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“It’ll be a little weird to see him on the other side. He’s been such a big part of this team for so long and a big part of my career. It’ll be different.”
And that’s the thing that many Rockies fans may forget. Tulo took younger players under his wing such as Arenado, LeMahieu, and even Trevor Story. His tutelage is still paying dividends for Colorado.
“He’s a guy who challenged me every day to be better,” LeMahieu said. “It takes a special teammate to go out of their way to challenge every guy but that’s the kind of person he was.”
Challenge is also a word that could be used with Tulo heading back into Denver. He has refused interview requests ahead of the series (although he did agree to meet with the media prior to Monday’s game). It’s clear he’s not interested in warm hugs and fond memories. This is a business trip.
The situation on Monday is reminiscent of when Andres Galarraga returned to Coors Field in 1998 as a member of the Atlanta Braves. “The Big Cat,” beloved by so many in Denver, left the Rockies for more money and seemingly greener pastures in the South. He also left with some hard feelings toward the organization for offering him a lower salary as they hoped to develop some guy by the name of Todd Helton.
Galarraga would be welcomed warmly by the fans, but also had his share of boos as well for leaving LoDo for more money. The hard feelings that Galarraga had bubbled under the surface every time he returned to Colorado. And let’s not forget that Galarraga was even a part of one of the biggest brawls in Colorado history.
Next: What It Was Like to Watch Tulo Play in Toronto
Absolutely, Troy Tulowitzki deserves respect for the years he played in Colorado and the contributions he made to the organization. He will be greeted with plenty of cheers and maybe even the infamous “TU-LO” chant. But there will also be plenty of those in attendance who will remind him that they read his quotes and are glad Trevor Story is manning the shortstop position now.
Prepare for a mixture of emotions in LoDo on Monday night.