SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Troy Tulowitzki earned a long list of accolades last season: an All-Star selection, a Silver Slugger award and his first career Gold Glove.
Then, this winter, he earned a new megamillion contract to stay put in Colorado for the long haul -- the face of the franchise for the future.
The Rockies' star shortstop is the same outgoing, down-to-earth guy he has always been even with a rich new deal. He insists he has no time to think about his fortune. Tulowitzki is committed to making Colorado a perennial contender again after a disappointing third-place division finish in 2010.
Same goes for Carlos Gonzalez.
Tulowitzki and Gonzalez joined their teammates for meetings and the first full-squad spring training workout Wednesday at sparkling Salt River Fields, which Colorado shares with division rival Arizona. Everybody was eager to start up for a club that truly believes it is primed to make a run at the NL West title and the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
For the hitters, it was their first chance to face live pitching after many showed up last week to begin taking batting practice.
"I'm definitely going to let it loose. I'm here to swing the bat," Tulowitzki said. "I don't like to watch pitches."
Plenty of fans arrived early to watch Tulowitzki and Gonzalez get going on Day 1. They are two of baseball's brightest young stars. Humble ones, too.
Tulowitzki will make an additional $132 million over seven seasons through 2020, a deal that guarantees him $157.75 million for the next decade. He had been guaranteed $25.75 million through 2013 under the $31 million, six-year contract he received in January 2008.
And how about the slugging Gonzalez? The Rockies gave him an $80 million, seven-year contract this offseason that runs through 2017 and covers what would have been his first three years of free agency.
"It shows you that they trust you, they trust in their players," Gonzalez said of the spending spree. "They don't go and shop after they lose. That's something that motivates me to go and work hard and go and get better and help the team. If you put pressure thinking about the money or you're the guy with the responsibility, you're not going to get anywhere."
Tulowitzki is 26, and Gonzalez all of 25. The Rockies are building something around these two who haven't even reached their prime, along with ace Ubaldo Jimenez leading a talented pitching staff. He was a 19-game winner last season.
"It doesn't translate into wins, not at all," Tulowitzki said Wednesday morning before going to work. "Just because you spent money doesn't mean you're going to win. One thing we did differently, it's not like we got free agents and spent money on them. We spent money on some guys we already had. I think that was their thought process, 'Hey, we know these guys.' They've gotten in trouble before bringing in guys they don't know and it turned out not to be a good thing. They know me. They know Carlos."
Gonzalez put up equally impressive stats last year to those of Tulowitzki, who missed 33 games with a broken wrist. Gonzalez was the NL batting champion with a .336 average and hit 34 home runs with 117 RBIs in his first full big league season.
The charismatic outfielder spent the winter as a celebrity back home in Venezuela, where he shot television commercials between return trips to the states to work out his contract.
Like Tulowitzki, he was ready to get going on the field at last. While it's always a fresh start for every team each spring, the Rockies still have a bad taste from losing 13 of their final 14 games in an injury-plagued 2010 season. Colorado still finished a respectable 83-79.
"It seems like we were away from each other for a year but it's only been four months," Gonzalez said. "We're ready to go out there and practice and get better. That's the only way we get to the next level. It's too bad our last two weeks we pretty much lost every game. Now we need to forget about it and start working. That was the past. That was last year. Nothing's going to change that. This is a new beginning for us. We need to step forward and we need to have a really good beginning because we always start really slow. We need to start strong and finish strong, too."