NATIONAL LEAGUE

THE BALTIMORE SUN

BREAKOUT PLAYER / / TROY TULOWITZKI

Team / / Colorado Rockies

Position / / Shortstop

Comment / / Tulowitzki was taken with the seventh pick in the first round of the 2005 draft. By the end of August 2006, he was in the major leagues. And he might stay there for years. He's 6 feet 3 and 205 pounds and should be able to take advantage of the thin air at Coors Field. He's just 22, but the Rockies have cleared a space for him.

COLORADO ROCKIES

LAST SEASON / / 76-86 / / TIED FOR FOURTH PLACE

LINEUP 2006 STATISTICS

CF Willy Taveras .278, 83 runs, 33 SBs

2B Kaz Matsui .267, 3 HRs, 26 RBIs

3B Garrett Atkins .329, 29 HRs, 120 RBIs

1B Todd Helton .302, 15 HRs, 81 RBIs

LF Matt Holliday .326, 34 HRs, 114 RBIs

RF Brad Hawpe .293, 22 HRs, 84 RBIs

SS Troy Tulowitzki .240, 1 HR in 96 ABs

C Chris Iannetta .260, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs

ROTATION

RHP Aaron Cook 9-15, 4.23, 92 K's

LHP Jeff Francis 13-11, 4.16 ERA, 117K's

RHP Rodrigo Lopez 9-18, 5.90 ERA, 136 K's

RHP Jason Hirsh 3-4, 6.04 ERA, 29 K's

RHP Josh Fogg 11-9, 5.49, 93 K's

BULLPEN

LHP Brian Fuentes 3-4, 3.44 ERA, 30 saves

RHP LaTroy Hawkins 3-2, 4.48 ERA, 0 saves

LHP Jeremy Affeldt 8-8, 6.20 ERA, 1 save

Manager / / Clint Hurdle, sixth season

Payroll / / $54 million

X-factor / / Is Willy Taveras the slap hitter who nearly got benched in the first half last year or the author of a 30-game hitting streak in the second half?

Best case / / Todd Helton, recovered from last year's intestinal illness, uses the offseason trade rumors as motivation for a strong comeback year. ... Jeff Francis steps into ace role and bids for 18-plus wins.

Worst case / / Kaz Matsui reminds everyone why he flamed out with the Mets. ... Chris Iannetta merely becomes the latest in a long line of failed Rockies catching projects.

CAPSULES FROM THE SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL

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