In the bottom of the second inning of the Sky Sox game against Sacramento it looked like Troy Tulowitzki was back to his old form in front of a sellout crowd at Security Service Field.
He singled in his previous at-bat and scored the first run of a Sky Sox 10-3 win against the River Cats where starting pitcher Jeff Francis gave up only one run in 52/3 innings and Ryan Wheeler went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer.
But Tulo's next trip to the plate the crowd was reminded of his fragility, only 26 days removed from a fractured rib.
Tulowitzki knocked a bomb off the left-field wall and easily rounded first base. But as he approached second, the ball came in from the outfield, and the All-Star was tagged out at the bag standing up.
That's right. Standing up.
The shortstop didn't attempt a dive that would have surely put him closer to safety, and instead he chose to take the out and end the inning.
On Monday, Tulowitzki also held back from a diving play on a ball played up the middle that would have been within reach had he dove to his left.
"The only time I think I held back was that play up the middle," said Tulowitzki, who went 3-for-3 on the night. "I think the first day and being on a rehab assignment, it probably wasn't the smartest thing to do."
That hesitation in hitting the deck is part of Tulowitzki's maturation.
"I think over the years I just became a little bit smarter," he said. "Before I'd be begging after yesterday to get out of here but now I understand how important these games can be."
Before Tuesday's game, Tulowitzki went 2-for-4 in six innings, and after Tulowitzki singled in the bottom of the sixth, Drew Garcia entered the game to pinch run in his place.
Manager Glenallen Hill said Tulowitzki came out after hitting in the sixth because Tulowitzki said he was finished for the day.
"He just said he was done," Hill said.
Hill added that Tulowitzki will be taking Wednesday off, and Hill isn't sure when he will return.
While Tulowitzki is feeling out his in-game capabilities, teammate Dexter Fowler (0-for-3, two walks) played eight full innings and will come off the 15-day disabled list Thursday and rejoin the Rockies.
"I felt fine out there, my hand on the swings I took, it felt good," Fowler said before Tuesday's game. "I'm just eager to get back."
Tulowitzki fiddled and grabbed his rib area a few times Monday and Tuesday, drawing concern from some that he had suffered a setback. But Tulowitzki wasn't in pain, he was simply adjusting to playing with his protective pad.
"I had never played with that, so it was a little bit different playing with it," he said before the game. "I felt it at times. Some people saw me tugging on it and thought something was wrong with my rib, but it was more just messing with it."
Both games gave Tulowitzki a better feel for when he would return to the Rockies, but he recognizes that unexpected setbacks can happen.
"I've been here before where it's like, 'one more game and I'm out of here' and then something happens," he added. "I like my chances of getting back there real soon, if these games go smoothly. But I'd hate to put a date on something and something shake me up here and then have to wait another week or so."