The Rockies' top draft choice out of Long Beach State in 2005, Tulowitzki has batted .342 (including going 0-for-2 in Friday's rain-shortened, 5-3 victory over the White Sox) with six RBIs and five doubles) to beat out former starter Clint Barmes, who hit .229 and was optioned to Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday.
Tulowitzki batted .240 with one home run and six RBIs in a 25-game trial in 2006, but excelled in the Arizona Fall League and showed growth this spring.
"You need to give credit where credit is due, and Tulowitzki has made good advances," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He came in to compete. Barmes came in to compete. The competition was brisk early, then I think Tulo was able to put some distance between them a little bit later.
"Defensively, he made the plays, Barmes made the plays. The offensive consistency we have with Tulowitzki is better suited for our ballclub."
When the Rockies open against the D-backs on April 2 at Coors Field, they're expected to start two recently drafted rookies, Tulowitzki and catcher Chris Iannetta (fourth round, 2004).
A total of seven Rockies draft picks should start the game, the others being right-handed pitcher Aaron Cook (second round, 1997), first baseman Todd Helton (first round, 1995), third baseman Garrett Atkins (fifth round, 2000), left fielder Matt Holliday (seventh round, 1998) and right fielder Brad Hawpe (11th round, 2000).
Center fielder Willy Taveras, acquired from the Astros this winter, and second baseman Kazuo Matsui, obtained from the Mets last season, round out the probable lineup.
Fogg emerges: Workmanlike right-hander Josh Fogg continues to defy anyone that suggests that one can't win without special talent. He has won in double figures three of the last four years, and this spring, he won the contest for the fifth-starter job.
Fogg (0-1, 4.30 ERA this spring; 11-9, 5.49 in 2006) often speaks matter of factly that someone is always being brought in to force him out of a job, but he keeps giving his team chances to win games. Hurdle likes the way Fogg handles that situation.
"He's not anxious about it; he didn't back down from it; didn't shy away from it," Hurdle said. "He's had to compete most of the time he's been on the baseball field, and this was another opportunity to do that, and he did it well."
For now, right-handers Manny Corpas and Ramon Ramirez compete for one bullpen spot. That could change should the Rockies trade right-hander Byung-Hyun Kim to a team in need of a starter, depending on what the Rockies receive in return.
"Our bullpen is not a final product, even as we speak," Hurdle said.
Corpas has aggressively thrown strikes and pitched five scoreless innings with two saves. Ramirez is 1-0 with an 8.31 ERA in five games and has battled illness in recent days. He could pitch on Saturday against the Angels in Tempe, Ariz.
Before Atkins' grand slam on Friday -- a line shot that quickly cleared the wall in center -- Matsui fouled off pitch after pitch before drawing a walk from White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd in what Hurdle called "a very professional at-bat."
Earlier, Matsui went 0-for-1 with a walk against lefty John Danks. The flyout/double play was a decent at-bat, as Matsui fouled off several pitches in a hit-and-run attempt. However, the switch-hitting Matsui is 2-for-10 with three strikeouts against lefty pitchers this spring, and he hit .119 against them last season with the Mets and the Rockies. He batted .299 against right-handers.
Hurdle said one way to get right-swinging Jamey Carroll playing time is starting him against lefties instead of Matsui. Carroll hit .359 against left-handers and a respectable .283 against righties last season. But Hurdle noted that Matsui hit left-handers in the past, and he has made progress this spring.
"It's something we've talked a lot about going in, but I'm never going to paint myself in a corner," Hurdle said.
The Rockies, led by southpaw Jeff Francis, will face the Angels and right-hander Kelvim Escobar at Tempe Diablo Stadium on Saturday at 2:05 MT.