Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Rockies icon Helton still beloved by franchise

Former first baseman on hand for team's 25th anniversary celebration
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Todd Helton stood, arms folded, studying Rockies hitters during batting practice. The furrowed brow and familiar goatee are grayer than they were a few years ago, but the intense expression took one back to his 17 seasons as the team's most beloved player.

Helton is back at Coors Field this weekend for the Rockies' 25th Anniversary celebration. Helton and other members of the Rockies' All-Time 25, as voted by the fans during the winter, will participate in a Photo Day celebration Saturday at 10:30 a.m. MT.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- Todd Helton stood, arms folded, studying Rockies hitters during batting practice. The furrowed brow and familiar goatee are grayer than they were a few years ago, but the intense expression took one back to his 17 seasons as the team's most beloved player.

Helton is back at Coors Field this weekend for the Rockies' 25th Anniversary celebration. Helton and other members of the Rockies' All-Time 25, as voted by the fans during the winter, will participate in a Photo Day celebration Saturday at 10:30 a.m. MT.

View Full Game Coverage

Friday, Helton -- who would hold the title of "Mr. Rockie" if such a title existed -- admitted that being at Coors Field made him miss putting on his No. 17 and gearing up for a game.

"It's always good to come back, but it's strange, also," Helton said. "It's a weird feeling coming back, walking in and not putting a uniform on. But it's going to be great to see the guys."

Saturday's celebration will include retired players such as Larry Walker, who has received some traction in Hall of Fame voting, Pedro Astacio, Ellis Burks, Vinny Castilla, Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Huston Street and Yorvit Torrealba, as well as current Rockies voted to the all-time team via online voting -- Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, Chris Iannetta and DJ LeMahieu.

Helton, 44, is enjoying retirement, being a dad to his two daughters -- Tierney Faith, a high school sophomore, and Gentry Grace, a third-grader. He spent 2016 as player development director at his alma mater, the University of Tennessee, and did some coaching with USA Baseball. This year he is spending more time at home, enjoying his retirement in Knoxville, Tenn.

But between glad-handing with former teammates, current Rockies trying to reach his level of stardom and club officials, Helton stopped to look around his old park, and study the new group of Rockies. But whether that means a return to the game, or even his old club, in some capacity is another question.

"I have no idea," Helton said. "I did enjoy watching the guys hit. They all took pretty good BP. I don't know about the future. I'm worried about the next 24 hours right now. I don't know what's next. I'm happy where I'm at.

"I saw Pedro. I haven't seen Larry in forever. It'll be fun to see the guys."

Helton returned last year for the reunion of the 2007 team that went to the World Series. Each time he returns, it's a pleasant reminder to him of what he means in Denver.

"I'm pretty far removed from it, living in Knoxville -- it's all about football there," Helton said. "It seems like [the Rockies career] is a long ways off. But when you come back there are a lot of memories here, a lot of good memories."

Rehab time

Righty reliever Carlos Estevez (right elbow strain) threw his second and likely final live batting practice Friday, and will be evaluated for an injury rehab assignment. When he is cleared, he will join lefty reliever Mike Dunn (upper back strain) and righty reliever Scott Oberg (lower back strain), both of whom will report to Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday for rehab.

Pint on a healthy path

Righty Riley Pint, the Rockies' top pick in 2016 and the team's No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has recovered from an early-season right forearm injury and is building his innings load at Short-Season Class A Boise.

The Rockies shut down Pint after one-third of an inning in his first start at low-A Asheville on April 8, let the injury heal completely and brought him along carefully in extended spring training. He has thrown seven innings over two outings at Boise. He's given up just one earned run but has eight walks against seven strikeouts. However, the goal has been physical health and a healthy motion, according to Mark Wiley, the Rockies' director of pitching operations.

"The injury gave us a chance to get him back on his rhythm, and build him up for the short season," Wiley said. "He went through a couple of simulations, then pitched his first game in Boise three innings, and now four innings. We hope we keep increasing the load."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies