Day by day, Helton remaining productive
InsideTheRockies.com | Apr 22
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton had reason to be in a good mood on Sunday morning. His name was on the lineup card. He was doing some gentle stretching and feeling nothing bad. The sound system in the Coors Field home clubhouse was blaring "All I Need to Know" from his favorite country singer, Kenny Chesney. Then again, Helton also had reason to be grumpy. While his often troublesome back didn't feel bad, it didn't exactly loosen up during an earlier batting practice. And a couple of nights earlier, Helton swatted what he knew should have been a double, but his legs allowed him only a single. But as long as Helton's back will let him play, he is simply thankful. Certainly, the power that helped make him a five-time All-Star has been erased by years of back issues. After a sore back and weak legs last season saddled Helton with the worst numbers of his career, the 37-year-old can't take any measure of health for granted. "Everybody likes to fight Father Time a little bit," Helton said. "Obviously, that's part of the battle as you get older, working within what you're given on that day. So I don't know. That's part of the fun of it, part of the challenge, too." Given his encouraging 2011 statistics -- a .333 batting average, four doubles, a home run, eight RBIs and a .389 on-base percentage while starting 11 and appearing in 16 of the Rockies' 18 games -- Helton's day-by-day approach is working. Father Time always wins, eventually. But successes in the battle are often historic. During Wednesday afternoon's 10-2 victory over the Giants, Helton contributed his 531st career double. He ranks 31st all-time and is three behind Lou Gehrig. Other than a brief bout with tightness, brought on when he slipped while warming up on a wet field in Pittsburgh, Helton has shown no sign of the problems that could halt his climb on all-time lists and stop him from contributing to a Rockies team that enters Friday's series opener against the Marlins with a National League-best 13-5 record. "I feel like I've got a chance when I step up to the plate, which is a good feeling," Helton said. "I'm seeing the ball well. "I never look in the future. I worry about today. You never know -- not only in baseball, but in life -- what tomorrow will hold. You can wake up and [have] something not feel right. I just enjoy today and focus on doing my best today, playing as hard as I can. We've got good enough guys behind me to where if something happens when I play as hard as I can today, and if I can't go tomorrow, they can get me." Helton's role is an important one. He bats behind shortstop and cleanup man Troy Tulowitzki. His production means that opponents can't avoid Tulowitzki. Helton's production so far has helped offset the slower-than-expected start of outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, who bats ahead of Tulowitzki.