- Associated Press - Saturday, January 24, 2015

DENVER (AP) - This has almost become an annual rite of impending spring: Troy Tulowitzki insisting he is healthy and can stay that way for an entire season.

The Colorado Rockies often-injured shortstop realizes everyone is wary of such talk. So, he took a different path when asked about the status of his surgically repaired hip.

Wait and judge for yourself next month in spring training.

“Honestly, I can say I feel as good as new,” Tulowitzki said Saturday at Rockiesfest, an event in which fans mingled with players at Coors Field. “But at the same time, no one is going to believe me until they see me go out and see me play. Come to spring training, watch me play and then make your opinion.”

Tulowitzki has heard all the knocks on him - how he is injury prone (limited to 91 games last season and 47 in 2012 because of a groin ailment). How his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame is too big for a shortstop. How his age - he turned 30 in October - is working against him because he is going to break down even more.

“That stuff fuels me,” said Tulowitzki, who hit .340 with 21 homers before shutting it down because of his balky hip. “Makes my workouts better. Makes me want it that much more. I definitely have that chip on my shoulder.”

It’s been an arduous offseason for Tulowitzki as he rehabbed his hip and heard his name frequently pop up in trade rumors, like the ones that surfaced involving the New York Mets.

He can now breathe easier, knowing he won’t be dealt so close to camp, right?

“In this game, you never get relaxed. Anything can happen,” said Tulowitzki, a first-round pick by Colorado in 2005. “For me, my job is to get ready to play. I’d love to be here, and win here. It would mean that much more to me.

“But I’m not going to sit here and say, ‘It’s final.’ That I’m definitely staying here. Because I really don’t know.”

The Rockies haven’t done all that much in the offseason in part because they are banking on healthy returns from Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez (knee) to help them bounce back from a 66-96 campaign in which they finished 28 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.

Manager Walt Weiss will again take it easy with Tulowitzki this season and give him regular days off whether he wants them or not. Anything to minimize the grind on the All-Star.

“He works as hard as anybody, prepares as well as anybody,” Weiss said. “He’s gotten hurt the last few years. But it’s not because of a lack of effort.

“The law of averages says he has a healthy year coming up.”

That is Tulowitzki’s hope, too.

“It’s been a battle for me. No doubt,” he said. “Hopefully, all these things are passed me and I can move on and go out there and play 140, 160 (games), however many games it is. I’d love to do that. I have every intention to. We’ll see how it goes.”

When he and Gonzalez are healthy, this is a potent lineup, especially when you throw in NL batting champion Justin Morneau and All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon.

Gonzalez said his left knee is “feeling good right now.” He hopes to be ready for spring training.

Last season took a big toll on Gonzalez. Not only with all the injuries - he also had surgery last June to remove a small tumor in his finger - but his twin daughters were born premature. They needed to stay in the hospital a little while longer to develop.

“It was a lot of pain, on and off (the field),” Gonzalez said. “I’m really happy and glad that everything is over. I feel very blessed now to have my family back and to feel healthy again.

“That’s the most important - when you feel healthy and have your smile. You can enjoy and don’t have to worry about anything.”

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