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Yanks' Tulowitzki homers for first time since '17

NEW YORK -- One game after notching his first big league hit in two seasons, Troy Tulowitzki took another key step in his return from a series of ankle and heel injuries Saturday when he hit his first home run in about the same amount of time.

Before this latest blast, Tulowitzki hadn't homered since July 8, 2017.

"That is cool," Tulowitzki said as a grin formed on his face. "Everybody knows my story. It's been a long time."

This latest homer, the 225th of Tulowitzki's career and his first as a member of the New York Yankees, came with his new club trailing the Baltimore Orioles by four runs in the bottom of the ninth. At the moment the shortstop made contact with the 87.3 mph sinker, there was hope in the home dugout.

"Those guys obviously never feel like they're out of it, and rightfully so," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "So Tulo riding one out of here the other way with the lefty to start things, you felt like, 'OK. We got an opportunity.'

"Let's go."

The homer off Richard Bleier began a Yankees rally, as they went on to score another run and got the potential game-winning run to the plate. That batter, designated hitter Miguel Andujar, ended up striking out to end the game, sealing Baltimore's 5-3 win.

Tulowitzki might have been pleased about what the home run meant in terms of being a milestone in his recovery, but he didn't believe it held any deeper meaning since it came in a loss.

"There would have been a lot of significance to it had we finished it off and won," Tulowitzki said. "But it got us going. It got the game real interesting."

Before the game, Boone said he would still be monitoring Tulowitzki's workload, especially at this early stage of the season. While it might be common to see the infielder play in back-to-back games, the Yankees likely won't put him through three consecutive at this point.

Tulowitzki's heels, which were surgically repaired last year, and his ankle, which was hurt in 2017, are all fully healthy now. But considering the 34-year-old missed all of last season, the Yankees just want to make sure they aren't overextending him at this stage.

"It'll be fluid, it'll be, 'How's he bouncing back [after playing a game]? How's he getting his prep work and the strength stuff he does behind the scenes and the weight room, how's he responding to that?'" Boone said.

Tulowitzki's homer capped a 1-for-2 showing in Saturday's loss. He also walked twice.

On Opening Day, he doubled down the left field line, marking his first big league hit since July 27, 2017.