Tulo, Blackmon look to second half following NL loss
Shortstop goes 1-for-3 with a double; outfielder 0-2 in All-Star debut
MINNEAPOLIS -- The National League clubhouse opened but Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki wasn't there for the crush of media or the mad memorabilia signing session.
Making a veteran move, Tulowitzki found a private corner somewhere in Target Field for his usual stretching routine, which involves pushing back and forth on a foam roller to loosen his often-troublesome leg muscles.
"I remember my first couple of All-Star games, I was running around with my head cut off and all of a sudden, 'Hey, five minutes until the anthem starts,'" Tulowitzki said with a smile. "Now, my routine is a little bit better. I understand what I need to do to actually go out there and win the game. I give myself enough time to do the routine I need to do."
Outfield teammate Charlie Blackmon still had his head, but barely after signing items and taking in the crowd and noise.
"There are a million people in this locker room," said Blackmon, the fashion hit of the All-Star Red Carpet Parade in his Garth Brooks American Flag button-up shirt. "I don't really know what I'm supposed to do with myself right now. I'm just going to try and enjoy it, be ready if the time comes tonight, be aggressive."
Tulowitzki made the most of his hectic day. After leading the National League players in fan voting, he started at short, batted third and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout. The hit was a two-out, opposite-field double in the fifth, with the score tied at 3, off of Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer. Tulowitzki made sure to gain the base when he slid to the inside, and did a deft swim move with the right hand to make sure the White Sox's Alexei Ramirez couldn't tag him.
His strikeout came during his first at-bat, when the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen stole third base.
Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish threw him a 65-mph lob for a ball during his second at-bat, which ended with a line drive to left field.
"Good thing he didn't strike me out on it, or they'd have been showing replays of it all the time," Tulowitzki said.
Tulowitzki said this was the most fun of his four All-Star selections.
"For sure, just because I was part of the Home Run Derby, and it was [Derek] Jeter's last All-Star Game," Tulowitzki said. "All in all it was the best experience, other than the fact that we lost."
Tulowitzki also stuck around to advise Blackmon before he entered as a defensive replacement in center field in the bottom of the sixth.
"I told Charlie it wasn't until my third All-Star Game until I was able to slow things down and say, 'It feels like a normal game,'" Tulowitzki said.
Blackmon struck out against the Royals' Greg Holland in the seventh, and finished the NL's 5-3 loss by grounding to second against Twins pitcher Glen Perkins in the ninth.
The nerves were present.
"Coming here is so different," Blackmon said. "It took me a long time to get comfortable at the big-league level, then you feel comfortable. Then I came here and played in the All-Star Game and it felt like I was making my debut all over again. I was nervous until I got in the game. Once I got in there, I was fine.
"I did a good job of taking a second, letting it sink in, looking around, seeing where I was, seeing who I was standing next to on the field. My favorite part was the flyover.
"When you're at an event where there's an official flyover, you're at something special."
Buoyed by the excitement of an All-Star weekend and the confidence that comes from being honored enough to participate, both players spoke with hope that the Rockies can make a run from their current status -- 13 1/2 games out of first place in the NL West and 12 back in the Wild Card after an injury-riddled first half.
The Rockies have many problems, but with third baseman Nolan Arenado and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez -- two players who might have put up All-Star seasons if not for injuries -- back in the lineup, the All-Stars feel there is a chance.
Tulowitzki is looking at specifics, as well as attitude.
"Our pitching needs to be more consistent," Tulowitzki said. "Those guys need to go deeper into games. Be healthy. I think so many key people went down. So they are coming back, and when we have them we are very talented.
"And don't give into the fact that, 'Hey, we are having a really bad year and not start feeling sorry for ourselves. Bring it every single day."
"I think we're really close, I do," Blackmon said. "A lot of those games could've gone either way, and then late they went in the wrong direction. We were right there the whole time.
"Just coming back for the second half, giving our bullpen a rest. Really we hope to get some starting pitching back healthy and even some of our position players, get them back healthy, get them some more at-bats and get them in midseason form. I think we'll be back in good shape. I think we're only going to get more healthy as to where other teams, at this point in the year, guys are getting tired."