SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Done with his first day of batting practice, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki leaned into a gentle stretch.
"So, who got Camper of the Day?" Tulowitzki said with a hopeful smile. "I'll take that today."
It's being on the field that makes this camper happy. Talking about being on the field -- which Tulowitzki did in the Salt River Fields at Talking Stick clubhouse before going out for this workout -- doesn't bring the same smile, though.
That's mainly because the subject of his availability eclipses all else. Last season, Tulowitzki's .340 batting average, 21 home runs, 52 RBIs and a 1.035 OPS all pale in comparison to his 91 games played. His last one was July 19, when he suffered the left hip labrum injury that would lead to season-ending surgery in August.
Because 143 games in 2011 is the high-water mark since 2010, he's spent a lot of time discussing games missed. Anything he says will draw creative snark from fans. But Tulowitzki hates saying it as much as others hate hearing it.
"You guys judge for yourself," Tulowitzki said. "I can say I'm healthy [as much] as I want. It doesn't matter until I get out there and play."
Keeping Tulowitzki on the field has been one of the big projects for third-year Rockies manager Walt Weiss. What was unfortunate about 2014 was Tulowitzki and Weiss couldn't find anything they did wrong. Tulowitzki developed a lengthy preparation routine, and Weiss monitored his shortstop's playing time judiciously, using him in 91 of the team's first 98 games, only to see it all end when Tulowitzki was coming out of the batter's box in the fourth inning of a game in Pittsburgh.
"The two years I've been here, we've handled it well between 'Tulo,' [head athletic trainer Keith Dugger] and myself," Weiss said. "We were all very in tune. Sometimes injuries are very unfortunate, and they're unavoidable, but it's part of being an athlete at the highest level."
The other downer subject was trade rumors throughout the offseason. Tulowitzki said, "Rumors fly and rumors fly hard, especially with all the social media," but the Rockies kept him posted and nothing happened.
Former teammate Michael Cuddyer, who signed with a Mets team that was rumored to be interested in Tulowitzki, admitted being puzzled by the possibility of Tulowitzki being sent packing.
"Whether or not they trade him, I don't know," Cuddyer said. "No one has a player like 'Tulo' except the Colorado Rockies. In my opinion, you never let a player like that go."
But the injury talk or an offseason full of trade rumors didn't spoil Tulowitzki's day, not when he could get back on the field.
"My goal is what you guys want, for me to play," Tulowitzki said. "Everything else will take care of itself if I played.
"I went to lengths and lengths to try to figure this thing out. I'm not going to quit trying. That's not in my personality. That's not in my DNA. If I do find it, I think I'm going to be all right."