As the Blue Jays wrap up Grapefruit Ball and head north for two final exhibition games in Montreal prior to the beginning of the 2018 season, Troy Tulowitzki waits in limbo. The 33-year-old shortstop will begin the season on the disabled list and it was suggested he could be back by the end of April.
It looks like that estimate might have been a little optimistic. I think we’ve reached Act Six.
To give everyone a quick refresher, this began at the very beginning of spring training when it was reported that the veteran shortstop had bone spurs removed from his heel and it wasn’t an issue. Minutes after that, it was reported that he was dealing with a bone spur in his heel and that he might have a delayed start to camp. A few days later, John Gibbons praised Gift Ngoepe and said he he could be a good replacement if Tulo started the year on the DL. Then, finally, it was announced that he wouldn’t be ready to start the season. (It’s all broken down here)
And now, we have the most recent update from Shi Davidi:
“I don’t think I’ve made much progress here in spring training just because I came in, honestly, with the expectation I’d be ready by opening day,” he says during an interview. “That was the goal, and as I was going along that just became not a possibility because of certain tests I was put through and I was still having some of the pain and some of the issues. We had to kind of back off, regroup a little bit, put together another plan, and that’s kind of where we’re at right now.”
That doesn’t sound that bad. He expected to be ready for Opening Day, as we know, but it didn’t happen. But oh boy, it gets worse…
At the moment, this is what Tulowitzki and the Blue Jays know about his ankle: The ligament tear and compression fracture that occurred when his foot clipped C.J. Cron’s heel as he stepped on first base have healed, but those injuries are believed to have triggered more pain from his pre-existing bone spurs. Those bone spurs, which he guesses he’s had for the past 3-5 years, caused discomfort, but never the type of unbearable pain he feels now when running, the prime hurdle between him and a return.
We’re just a few days away from the beginning of the season and Tulo is feeling unbearable pain when putting weight on his foot. There’s clearly a long way to go before he’s going to be in condition to trot out there and play shortstop every single day, let alone play effectively.
We know that Tulo is an intense competitor and it’s probably killing him that he can’t start the season with the team. While he isn’t the same MVP-calibre player he once was in Colorado, Tulo is still obviously an important part of this team, both as a player on the field and a leader off of it.
He’s no stranger to this as he’s dealt with multiple major injuries over his career. He’s dealt with a quad injury, a wrist injury, a groin injury, and he’s had hip surgery. Obviously the older you get the more difficult it is to come back from injuries.
He says he feels optimistic about it…
“I know I’m not invincible, I know things can happen that you can’t control, but I do like my chances,” says Tulowitzki. “I know I’m a fighter. I know I’ve been through some things before and answered them. And another thing, that’s the only way to look at it, right? I’m not going to get through it, trust me, if I’m sitting here talking to you saying I’m not quite sure I can do this. The only way I’m going to make it happen is if I’ve got a positive outlook on it, like I can do this.”
… but still, it’s becoming very clear that the Jays are going to be without their starting shortstop for quite some time. Hopefully Aledmys Diaz and, uhh, Danny Espinosa are ready to carry the load.