The last time Troy Tulowitzki played at Security Service field, he left the game in the fifth inning after reinjuring his groin.
But that was last September, and Tulowitzki has fully recovered from that injury.
Monday, he was back in Colorado Springs, rehabilitating a fractured right rib suffered only 25 days ago, and he didn't let flashbacks of his season-ending injury ruin his return.
"I've had plenty of 0 for 20s at Coors Field, and it doesn't mean I'm not going to take any more at-bats there," Tulowitzki said before the game. "It's just part of the thing that you've got to deal with. There's no doubt that I've thought about it, but you can't play this game scared to go out there and play. Whatever happens, happens."
In the Sky Sox 14-6 loss to the Sacramento River Cats in front of 4,233 fans, the All-Star shortstop donned a protective rib pad and had two at-bats in three innings, singling on the first and flying out to right field on the second.
"I've been getting the itch for awhile," he said. "Everybody knows how much I love playing this game, so to be out here tonight and get to play is going to be special for me and hopefully it all goes well and hopefully back with the Rockies real soon."
Tulowitzki isn't the only member of the Rockies working back to rejoin the club - outfielder Dexter Fowler is recovering from a bruised wrist and also started Monday.
On the first play, Tulowitzki fielded a grounder sent his way by Sacramento's Jemile Weeks. He threw over to Ben Paulsen at first for the out.
Fowler led off for the Sky Sox, but grounded out on the first pitch he saw from right-handed pitched Arnold Leon.
Tulowitzki then stepped up and after four pitches knocked a single into center field. He scored the first run of the game three batters later on an RBI single from Paulsen.
Though his recovery is speeding along - he took his first batting practice July 4 - Tulowitzki knows from experience that the process can be long and unpredictable.
"I'm not going to be pain free," he said. "I'm going to be in some pain no matter what. Broken rib, from my understanding, at the end of the year, it's still going to be sore."
Fowler left the game after the sixth inning. He finished 0 for 3 with one walk and one strikeout.
"Typically, in long games like this when guys are on rehab, you have to use a little common sense and had the game not been so long then he probably would have played the entire seven," manager Glenallen Hill said. "Being that it was a long game, I was okay with him coming out."
While Tulowitzki doesn't have a timetable to return to Coors Field, Fowler hopes that Tuesday's game against the River Cats is his last in Colorado Springs. Both players are scheduled to play for the Sky Sox on Tuesday. Hill said there were no setbacks and Tulowitzki is set to play at least five innings and Fowler will play nine.
Fowler's stint on the 15-day disabled list expires Thursday, and he hopes to rejoin the Rockies in Los Angeles to face the Dodgers.
"It's frustrating being out there and not being able to help," he said. "I was kind of disappointed that I had to get put on the DL, but you know that's baseball."
Tulowitzki is set to start the All-Star Game in a week, but he said before he'll consider participating in the game, he has to rejoin the Rockies.
"If I end up participating in the All-Star Game, then I'm definitely going to help out my team first," Tulowitzki said. "That's my first priority."