SPORTS

Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays newcomer, senses winning culture in Toronto

07/29/2015 04:51 EDT | Updated 07/29/2016 05:59 EDT
Still in shock at becoming a Blue Jay, Troy Tulowitzki managed a few smiles at Wednesday's introductory news conference which, if you know the man nicknamed "Tulo" well, is a good sign for Toronto fans.

It means this self-described intense competitor is happy.

It means he's excited about a new opportunity in a foreign country with only the second team he's known since breaking into the major leagues with the Colorado Rockies in 2006.

It also means he senses a winning product with these Blue Jays, perhaps a World Series contender, very soon.

"I know they're in win-now mode so that excites me," said Tulowitzki, who was acquired Tuesday morning for fellow shortstop Jose Reyes and pitching prospects Miguel Castro, Jeff Hoffman and Jesus Tinoco. "No one's really run away [with the American League East] so I'm excited about that. I come into this locker room expecting to win."

As for being Mr. Smiley 24-7, Tulowitzki said he's not that guy.

"I come to the ballpark and care a lot and work very, very hard," he said. "As soon as the game's over, it's not time to celebrate. It's time to look forward to the next game and back to business."

The Blue Jays awoke Wednesday with a 50-51 record, eight games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees with 61 games left in the regular season, including 13 against the Yankees, and three back of Minnesota for the second wild-card spot.

Tulowitzki, who had a .300 batting average in 87 games for Colorado this season with 12 home runs and 53 runs batted in, knows that type of deficit isn't insurmountable.

In his first full season with the Rockies in 2007, they were six games out in the wild-card race in September and two back with two games remaining and squeezed into the post-season. From there, Colorado dispatched Philadelphia in three games in the National League Division Series and swept Arizona 4-0 in the NL Championship Series to gain the franchise's first World Series berth.

Unfortunately, the wheels fell off against Boston, which swept the best-of-seven series.

Tulowitzki sees some similarities with this year's Blue Jays.

"You see similarities in the standings," he said. "We [Rockies] were just treading water, playing .500 baseball, kind of like what Toronto is right now. You get hot at the right time and you carry that into the playoffs.

"You just need that one good month when you play great baseball, you get ahead in the standings, find yourself in the playoffs and you go from there. Anything can happen in the playoffs."

But Troy, that's a sore subject in these parts. Toronto hasn't played in the post-season since 1992, the longest active drought in the major leagues.

Tulowitzki sees a winning team, a winning culture in Toronto. He believes that will get him excited to get to the ballpark each day after some recent losing seasons in Colorado.

"What I'm hoping for is there is a reason [for being traded to Toronto] and it's good for my career and hopefully I can get back to winning which I did early in my career," said Tulowitzki, adding the trade rumours and losing the past two years was tough.

"I think [playing meaningful games] will bring me back to my younger days when all you were worried about is winning. When you're worried about winning and playing the game the right way, you usually play better yourself."

It's been a tough July for Tulowitzki at the plate as he entered Wednesday's series finale against Philadelphia batting .219 (14-for-64) this month. His career numbers at Rogers Centre, namely a .182 average in 11 at-bats, are worse. But Tulowitzki has homered twice in Toronto and his .544 slugging percentage since 2009 is the highest among all major league shortstops, so there's hope.

And that's what the five-time all-star's arrival offers, along with added talent, optimism and experience.

"I left a lot there [in Colorado]. I played with passion for 10 years," said Tulowitzki. "I definitely left everything I had there as far as on a day-to-day basis of giving them all I got.

"But, hey, this is a new chapter in my career. I'm excited about being a Blue Jay. I'm excited about this city of Toronto and bringing back winning, hopefully. That's really the key for me, going to a place I can win games."

MORE:cbcSports