Colorado Rockies’ first baseman Todd Helton ended the 2012 season after 69 games due to a hip injury. In 69 games, Helton finished with a career-low hitting average of .238 and a season wasted.
Helton had right hip surgery in August and spent the past six months rehabbing and preparing for the 2013 season.
In February, the face of the franchise was arrested and charged with driving under the influence and careless driving in Denver.
Helton addressed the media last Sunday and apologized for his “monumental mistake.”
“Obviously the last place I want to be on the first day of spring training is here talking about a mistake I made,” Helton said to reporters. “Last week I got behind the wheel of my truck after I had drank. All I can do now is apologize and ask for forgiveness.”
Helton has been met with much support and forgiveness from his teammates, coaches, family and fans.
“I’m very grateful to my wife, my family, my teammates and the Colorado Rockies organization for their support, Helton said while trying to hold back tears. “I am determined to learn from my mistakes, and I’ve gotten help.”
To round up the whirlwind of news surrounding Helton, Rockies Manager Walt Weiss announced last week that Helton will miss the first couple games of spring training.
Weiss wants to ensure that Helton eases into playing shape after recovering from a season-ending surgery.
“He’s probably not going to be in the first handful of games. I don’t know the exact number,” Weiss told MLB.com. “For a guy like him, there’s no reason to put your foot to the pedal.”
Helton is in the final year of his contract with the Rockies. The biggest question is whether the 17-year veteran will be able to endure the 162-game season in his final go.
As of twenty games into spring training, Helton has played in the last six games. The veteran has a .214 batting average, with one homerun and three RBIs.
Manager Walt Weiss is happy with how fast Helton is regaining his stride, as his homerun on Friday, March 16 led the Rockies to a 5-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
“It doesn’t take long for a hitter like Todd to get ready,” Weiss told Yahoo! Sports. “He was sweet swinging for a long time to get back to feeling ready.”
— Mike Iulianello