Is Superstar Troy Tulowitzki Forever Doomed to Wear Injury-Prone Moniker?

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Is Superstar Troy Tulowitzki Forever Doomed to Wear Injury-Prone Moniker?

Cal Ripken Jr., he is not.

Like Ripken, Troy Tulowitzki is a big, power-hitting, MVP-caliber shortstop.

As far as staying healthy, though, Tulowitzki and Ripken are on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Ripken, of course, was nicknamed Iron Man for his record 2,362 consecutive games played.  

Tulowitzki, meanwhile, has done it again in the middle of what was shaping up to be a career season.

Hit the disabled list, that is.

This time—and we say "this" because it's happened on quite a few occasions previously—the Colorado Rockies star is out with a broken rib that, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, he suffered when he made a diving stop on a ground ball Thursday night.

Making matters worse, outfielders Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler also left Thursday's 5-4 loss to the Washington Nationals with foot and finger injuries, respectively. They're day-to-day.

Tulowitzki, however, is not. He's expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, per MLB.com.

While there's never a good time for an injury, Tulo's latest ailment is particularly poorly timed, given that the Rockies—maybe baseball's biggest surprise coming off a franchise-worst 98 losses in 2012—are in the thick of the NL West race.

At 35-32 heading into play Saturday, they are only 2.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Prior to the injury, Tulowitzki had played in 61 of the Rockies' 67 games (91 percent), which is rather remarkable given that he's participated in more than 75 percent of games only three times in his six "full seasons."

Tulowitzki has played 140-plus games only three times in six seasons.

In all likelihood, Tulo will be held out through the All-Star break, which starts on July 15. Even if he returns for the first game of the second half on July 19, he'll have missed 29 games.

Combined with the six he's already sat out, we're looking at yet another campaign with fewer than 130 games played.

And that's not only assuming best-case scenario here, it's also assuming Tulowitzki doesn't suffer any other injuries this season.

While we're on that topic, here's a gander the laundry list of Tulo's more severe injuries, the ones that required DL time, with data from Baseball Prospectus. Fair warning: It's not for the faint of heart.

Tulowitzki has missed time to injuries of various shapes and sizes.

What's particularly worrisome about this injury is that it's somewhat reminiscent of what happened to him last season.

You may recall that, initially, the groin injury seemed like it would knock Tulowitzki out for a few weeks, but when he kept having setbacks and couldn't get to full strength, surgery was eventually required to remove scar tissue. Tulo wound up being lost for the season, having played his final game of 2012 on May 30.

Eerily, Tulo's latest ailment happened exactly a year and two weeks later. 

This is a different injury altogether, obviously, but Tulowitzki indicated that he'd been feeling pain in his midsection for some time prior to Thursday's injury. That could mean he's out closer to the longer side of the estimate, which would be a month-and-a-half.

Or more.

Aside from what this means to the Rockies and their hopes for 2013, it's now obvious—if it wasn't already—that Tulowitzki must be labeled with the dreaded injury-prone tag.

Which is a shame, given how talented the seventh overall pick in 2005 has been when on the diamond.

To that point, the 28-year-old Tulowitzki ranked in the top 10 in the National League in average (.347), OBP (.413), hits (77), homers (16) and RBI (51), while leading the Senior Circuit in both slugging, at .635, and OPS, at 1.048, through Thursday.

As important as he is to Colorado, he's almost as important to baseball as a whole. Injuries are a part of sports, no doubt, but it's troubling to see one of the game's brightest young stars get cut down time and time again, year after year.

A two-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner who also has three top-10 NL MVP finishes, Tulowitzki's talent is undeniable.

Unfortunately, so are his injuries.

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