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Troy Tulowitzki injury: Rockies SS placed on 15-day DL with hip strain

Things just got a lot worse for the Rockies, who entered Tuesday having lost 24 of their last 30 games.

Doug Pensinger

The Colorado Rockies placed shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on the 15-day disabled list with a left hip flexor strain, the team announced on Tuesday.

The oft-injured star had played in 91 of the Rockies' first 97 games but was hurt while attempting to run out a grounder on Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Rockies held Tulowitzki out of the lineup in the series finale against the Pirates and he remained on the bench when Colorado returned home to face the Nationals on Monday. The team decided to place him on the DL to create a spot for left-handed pitcher Yohan Flande, who will start for the Rockies on Tuesday. This trip to the DL will be the third in as many years for Tulowitzki, who missed 115 games in 2012 with a groin injury and 36 last season as the result of a broken rib.

Tulowitzki leads the National League in all three triple-slash categories, hitting .340/.432/.603 with 21 home runs in 375 plate appearances. The 29-year-old, four-time All-Star has accumulated 5.6 rWAR, tying him with Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright for the top spot in the NL.

The injury, depending on its seriousness, could make contending teams shy away from calling the Rockies about Tulowitzki -- a darkhorse trade candidate -- as the non-waiver deadline approaches. Colorado's owner, Dick Monfort, has publicly stated that he has no plans to deal the two-time Gold Glove winner, but it's not out of the question that a team could become desperate enough to throw together an offer that the Rockies can't refuse. Tulowitzki's DL stint likely means Colorado will instead have to wait until the offseason to possibly be overwhelmed with a trade package for its top star.

In the meantime, Josh Rutledge will take the reins at shortstop for the 40-59 Rockies. Rutledge filled in admirably for Tulowitzki in 2012 and is performing well offensively in limited action this season, hitting .293/.354/457 entering Tuesday. Rutledge has been even more impressive away from Coors Field, hitting all three of his home runs on the road while compiling a .300/.344/.550 line. However, the Rockies will lose quite a bit on defense in Tulowitzki's absence; Rutledge has a career UZR/150 of minus-18.5 at shortstop, a far cry from Tulowitzki's plus-5.4.

Tulowitzki is the latest in a long list of key Rockies players to spend time on the DL this season. Carlos Gonzalez, Brett Anderson and Nolan Arenado recently returned from stints of their own, but Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood and Jordan Lyles are among those who remain out of action.