Helton was limited to 69 games last season because of a hip injury and had surgery in August to repair a torn labrum in his right hip. A career .320 hitter, Helton batted .238 with seven homers and 37 RBIs.
New hitting coach Dante Bichette was impressed with Helton’s first batting practice.
The arrest was a rare misstep for the 39-year-old, who begins his 17th major league season _ all with the Rockies. This could be his farewell year, though he hasn’t said whether he plans to retire. The Rockies will monitor his workload considering he is coming back from surgery.
“One of the things that has made him great is his burning desire to be great. I don’t think that’s ever going to change,” Weiss said. “I spent some time with him this winter. He’s in a good place. There’s a smile on his face, he’s bouncing around. I think he wants this year to be special and we all want it to be special for him and for us.”
Certainly Helton’s health will play into his decision how long to keep playing. He is entering the final season of his $33.7 million, three-year contract.
“You’re not going to want to go out injured. You’re definitely not going to want to go out in this certain situation,” he said.
Whether it’s his last hurrah or not, there are likely to be some boos in visiting ballparks _ and Helton expects it.
“I’ll definitely be prepared. It’s something that I can’t control,” he said. “I’ve made my bed and I’ll sleep in it. It’s my own fault. … The old saying is anything that happens after midnight is not good. One time is too many of making that mistake, and I apologize for it. I’m not going to get into the details.”
He struggled offensively after injuring the hip last June. Helton missed 12 games while on the disabled list in July and was hitting a career-low .238 when Colorado put him back on the DL again following the operation.
Helton, a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner and the franchise leader in almost every major offensive category who won the 2000 NL batting title, is ready to start fresh and put this incident behind him.
“I wish it didn’t happen,” he said. “Hopefully I can move forward from it.”
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