Sunday afternoon in Scottsdale, very near the end of spring training, the Colorado Rockies nearly suffered a catastrophic blow when superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki got struck on the left elbow by a fastball launched by Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez (here's the video, from ESPN).
Immediately after getting nailed, Tulowitzi threw up his arms and took a few steps toward the mound, and of course Jimenez charged toward Tulowitzki and the benches emptied for a rarely seen spring-training rhubarb. Though nothing further of consequence actually happened. Which isn't to suggest that everyone just agreed to get along.
It was the first pitch of Tulowitzki's first at-bat, and everyone who was there wasn't convinced that Jimenez's pitch just got away from him. From Troy Renck and Patrick Saunders (via The Denver Post), here's Colorado manager Jim Tracy after the game:
"It's the most gutless act I have seen in 35 years of professional baseball. I have lost all respect for him. To do something like that and walk down off the mound, and if there's any suggestion whatsoever that the ball got away, I don't want to hear any of that (expletive). He intentionally threw at him. He should be suspended. I am going to be very disappointed if he doesn't get suspended. He deserves to be," Tracy said, his voice rising in anger.
Gosh. Thirty-five years is a lot of years. But gutless is a word that's not often thrown around cavalierly.
Tulowitzki was forced from the game. Fortunately, x-rays later showed "no structural damage" and Tulowitzki's expected to be ready to play this Friday, when the Rockies open their season in Houston. That's what he says, anyhow.
There is a back-story here. Last summer, the Rockies traded Jimenez for what seemed like not a lot (though with Drew Pomeranz slated to join the Rockies' rotation later this month, that deal's looking better all the time). And now it seems they traded him they just didn't really want him around any more. And vice versa.
According to Renck and Saunders, this spring Jimenez has said he felt underappreciated by the Rockies, and recently he said playing for Cleveland was like "heaven" ... presumably compared to playing for Colorado. Then, this:
Tulowitzki responded in The Denver Post 10 days ago, saying, "If someone doesn't want to be here we always say, 'Please, go up to the manager and tell him you want to leave or that you don't think this is the best place for you.' That was kind of the case with him."
Those comments might be what got Tulowitzki a grotesquely swollen elbow but, it seems, nothing worse.
Meanwhile, there's still the matter of Jimenez's potential suspension. And one wonders if the Commissioner might get directly involved, as Bud Selig was reportedly in attendance at Scottsdale's Salt River Fields, though it's not been reported whether he was actually paying attention.