Senior Writer

Weekend Buzz: Rockies' start excellent collateral for later on


The Weekend Buzz while the air traffic controllers were sleeping. ...

1. No low in Tulo: During last summer's All-Star Game, St. Louis' Albert Pujols and the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki were talking hitting and numbers, a couple of masters discussing their art.

"I'm waiting for that month when I get real hot, and it makes your season," Pujols told Tulowitzki.

Tulowitzki recalled that conversation last month for a couple of reasons.

One, he could identify with what Pujols was saying because Tulo's been there. Usually, in September.

Under manager Jim Tracy, the Rockies spent lots of time in spring training emphasizing a good start. (AP)  
Under manager Jim Tracy, the Rockies spent lots of time in spring training emphasizing a good start. (AP)  
Two, April 2011 was just around the corner. And for a Rockies shortstop who usually steps into the season like a man falling from a Rocky Mountain cliff, he was desperately hoping to change things.

"I try to make light of it," Tulowitzki told me for a piece I was writing about the game's slowest starters. "But it sucks to be talking about that at this time of year.

"Every year I say, 'This is the year I'm going to have a great first month.' "

This year, he can exhale.

And the rest of the NL West should hold its breath -- or, maybe better yet, run and hide.

Nobody in baseball has started hotter than Tulowitzki or the Rockies, a statement that until now has been more foreign substance than Vaseline on a fastball.

Tulowitzki so far has more than doubled his career .662 April OPS, which was among the worst in baseball for players with at least 1,650 plate appearances. Through Sunday's stomping of the Cubs, Tulowitzki was leading the majors in OPS (1.342), home runs (7), extra-base hits (11), total bases (45) and slugging percentage (.865).

Let the rest of the NL West be forewarned: Before this season, in 17 non-strike-shortened Aprils, Colorado has mustered a winning record exactly four times -- none since 2006.

Which makes the Rockies' best-in-baseball 12-3 mark excellent collateral for later in the season.

Under manager Jim Tracy and his staff, and in a sparkling new spring complex in Scottsdale, the Rockies spent lots of time this spring emphasizing a good start. Among other things, Tracy and Co. thought that the extra hours they were able to substitute work for bus rides up from Tucson (where they formerly trained) would be beneficial.

Bench coach Tom Runnells told's Danny Knobler several days ago that he "added it up, and when we were in Tucson, we spent a full week's worth of time on the bus every spring."

So far, the Rockies -- and Tulowitzki -- have been pitch-perfect.

2. Baseball might expand replay: After last week's Barry Bonds trial, here's what one version of instant replay looks like: The game's all-time home run leader* and all-time hits leader are both convicted felons. Bonds for obstruction of justice, Pete Rose for filing false income taxes. Whew, good thing Hank Aaron is still the all-time RBI leader.

3. Jackie Robinson Day: Still one of the game's most shining moments, and bravo for baseball instituting a policy (with an assist from Ken Griffey Jr.) in which every player now wears No. 42 on the anniversary of Robinson's first game. Commissioner Bud Selig is right when he talks of baseball being a social institution with responsibilities, and never was that more apparent than when the game was ahead of the country in racial relations.

4. This game was approved by Grady's Ladies: As if the first-place Indians didn't have enough going for them, center fielder Grady Sizemore (microfracture surgery on his knee) returned to the lineup Sunday and walloped a home run in his second at-bat. The Indians now have won 11 of 13 games. Next victim: Kansas City.

5. Red Sox, Adrian Gonzalez deal finally announced: Bad news in Boston was that Gonzalez's seven-year, $154 million contract didn't qualify as nearly the surprise as the Red Sox's back-to-back wins over Toronto.

6. Brother, can you spare $30 million? Ongoing troubles of (short-term and overmatched) Dodgers owner Frank McCourt took another humiliating public spin when the Los Angeles Times reported that he took a $30 million loan from Fox just to make payroll last week.

Among the cash-raising options McCourt is said to be considering between now and April 30, when the Dodgers' next payroll is due:

 Charge fans a surtax on each word emitted by Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully after the "It's time for Dodger baseball" opening.

 Replace manager Don Mattingly with hot Cleveland skipper Manny Acta, then reopen "Mannywood."

7. Joe Nathan removes self from Twins closer role: Classy move. But how come ever since he heard about Nathan, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen is telling everyone in sight, "Hey, anytime Matt Thornton wants to talk, I'm free!"

8. Colby Lewis becomes first big leaguer to take paternity leave: Somewhere, Manny Ramirez is saying, "Why didn't I think of that?"

9. Eric Wedge, Terry Collins already sick of it: Wedge laid into his Mariners on Saturday after their 11th loss in 13 games. Collins went "ballistic" on his Mets last Tuesday after they had lost six of seven. Didn't these guys read in the Managerial Manual you're supposed to have team meetings when your ace is starting the next day? Wedge talked to his Mariners after Felix Hernandez pitched. And without Johan Santana, Collins has no ace, which is part of the reason the Mets lost four more in a row after he blistered them.

10. Coco Crisp's hair! He freed it from the cornrows Friday night against Detroit and it was 1970 all over again. See the photo here or the video here. But make sure you do (and maybe have some Sly & the Family Stone on the record player as you look).


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