here was no epiphany. Rockies star Todd Helton just followed his body's lead and listened to his head. Three months of workouts and recent batting practice told him that his surgically repaired left hip was healed and his desire to play remained strong, leading to his return for what likely will be his final major-league season.

"I am back, baby," Helton said with a laugh. "When you are 39 years old, coming off hip surgery, those things don't really go good together when you are talking about a baseball player. There was some uncertainty and doubt after last season. But as I got into it, it only fueled my appetite to keep playing and keep getting better."

Helton played in only 69 games last season, hitting .238 with a .343 on-base percentage, the second-lowest of his career, and 37 RBIs. A promising start, including a towering walk-off home run against the Diamondbacks on April 14, turned sour when his hip began to ache the first week of June. The pain compromised his swing, disrupting his timing and siphoning his power.

He had a torn labrum fixed Aug. 10, ending his season and casting doubt about his future. Helton long maintained he wanted to play out the final year of his contract, but couldn't commit fully until the testing his leg. A meeting with new manager Walt Weiss last month helped convice both that the Rockies' five-time all-star would come back for his 17th season, all with Colorado.

"We sat down at breakfast at the Cracker Barrel, where else? It was a good thing. Talking to him got me excited and rarin' to go," Helton said. "He has high expectations for us, but he's also a realist and knows that we have a lot of work to do if we are going to get back into the postseason."

Read more: Todd Helton says he will return to Colorado Rockies for likely final season - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/rockies/ci_22351173/todd-helton-return-colorado-rockies-final-season#ixzz2HgvvFPiy

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