Helton to undergo season-ending hip surgery
Tracy says veteran first baseman has 'every intention' of playing in 2013
DENVER -- Believing that it's more important to come back healthy than to play hurt through a difficult season, first baseman Todd Helton opted to undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum and other damage in his hip.The surgery, which will be performed by Dr. James Genuario in Denver, will take place on Friday, 10 days shy of Helton's 39th birthday. The Rockies placed Helton on the 15-day disabled list coming out of the All-Star break. After returning, he played six games before deciding to have the surgery so he can prepare for 2013, the final year of his contract, when he will make $5 million. "We knew when I was on the DL that [the labrum] was torn, there was something wrong with the bone and then there was cartilage messed up," Helton told MLB.com on Monday. "I was going to give [playing] a shot. I wanted to finish the year, but it wouldn't have been the best outcome. "If I wanted to play next year, it was best to go ahead and get it done so I can be ready for Spring Training." Helton finishes 2012 with a career-worst .238 batting average, with seven home runs and 37 RBIs in 69 games, the fewest since he played 35 while breaking in with the club in 1997. Helton has battled back problems in recent years, but the hip began bothering him this year as the season approached the All-Star break. He ended up missing 12 games after that but put up better numbers in his return -- .263 with three RBIs in six games. Helton holds club career marks for games played (2,123), at-bats (7,564), plate appearances (9,011), runs scored (1,360), hits (2,420), total bases (4,124), doubles (570), home runs (354) and RBIs (1,345). The doubles place him 21st on the all-time list, and his 959 extra-base hits are 45th in history. "I think the world of him," manager Jim Tracy said. "I've managed some special people. This guy that I've managed is arguably as good of a competitor as I've ever been around and one heck of a talent.
"Todd has every intention of playing next year."
Helton's is the latest misfortune in what is shaping up as the worst of the 20 seasons in Rockies history.Injuries have been an epidemic. Monday's game against the Dodgers, which the Rockies enter with a 38-68 record, will be the 58th that shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will have missed because of an injury to his left groin that required surgery (to remove scar tissue). Opening Day catcher Ramon Hernandez missed 42 games with a strained left hand. Outfielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer, who rotated with fellow outfielder-first baseman Tyler Colvin to handle right field and first base because of Helton's health, went on the DL on Sunday with a right oblique strain. Helton's backup at first base, Jason Giambi, has missed the last 11 games because of a viral syndrome. Chris Nelson, the Opening Day third baseman who was recalled from his rehab assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill Helton's roster spot, missed 17 games because of an irregular heartbeat. The list of injuries doesn't even include the pitchers. Juan Nicasio (surgery on left knee) and Christian Friedrich (stress fracture in lower back) are expected to miss the remainder of the season. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa hoped to have already returned from Tommy John surgery but only now appears to be headed in that direction. And righty Jhoulys Chacin, on a Minor League rehab assignment, hasn't pitched for the Rockies since May 1 because of a nerve issue in his chest.
"It just wasn't meant to be this season," Helton said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.