COMMENTARY | As happens at some point seemingly every season, the Colorado Rockies will again have to live without the top billing on the Coors Field marquee.
All-Star shortstop and team anchor Troy Tulowitzki broke a rib diving for a grounder on June 13 and will be returning to his familiar spot on the disabled list.
It's the fifth time in a brilliant, but injury-riddled career that the MVP candidate has been forced to miss significant playing time. This stint is expected to last about four to six weeks, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com.
It's a seemingly devastating blow for team that is pleasantly contending this year following a miserable 98 losses in 2012.
As of June 18, the Rockies are sitting in second in the NL West, only a half game behind the Diamondbacks.
They will now have to continue to keep pace without one of the best players in baseball.
Tulowitzki was among the National League leaders in most statistical categories upon his departure -- third in home runs (16), second in batting average (.347) and fourth in RBIs (51). That's on top of being one of the league's rangiest and most reliable defensive shortstops.
He's an incredibly valuable asset, but that's not news to anyone. His numbers are always superlative. The Rockies have been successful this season because the entire lineup has been productive.
As a team, the Rockies lead the National League in hits and RBIs. They're hitting .275 as a unit, and are second in the NL in runs and home runs.
That's not the work of one player.
Carlos Gonzalez, the reigning National League Player of the Week, is hitting as well as anyone in baseball. He alone is capable of carrying a team. Michael Cuddyer, recently back from his own stint on the DL, is having a career year. Ditto for Dexter Fowler. Add in slugging youngsters Wilin Rosario and Nolan Arenado, along with still relevant veteran Todd Helton, it remains a formidable offensive lineup.
And while he can't replace the looping highlight reel that is Tulowitzki, defensive-minded Jonathan Herrera has filled in admirably at short in years past and will likely do so again. If Herrera's bat becomes a liability, both D.J. LeMahieu and recently called-up Josh Rutledge can also fill in at the position.
As Cuddyer told the Denver Post, the rest of the team has to keep playing if it wants to remain in the race. There are plenty of players who can take up the slack at the plate and make the tough plays in the field.
No team gets better when it loses a player like Tulowitzki, but the sky will only fall in Denver if his teammates let it.
Chris Cobb is a journalist and freelance writer. He has previously written for The Herald-Zeitung and The Brownsville Herald, and has twice been named as Star Reporter of the Year by the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.
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