Todd Helton said yesterday that he plans to take more days off this season because he “had nothing left at the end of the year.” Here’s more from the 36-year-old first baseman:
That was partly my fault. I should have kept myself in a little better shape. You just get worn down from playing so much. I want to have more left in the tank when the games matter. … I have good and bad days with my back. I think running is probably the biggest thing. And diving.
When you get older and get sore, it just doesn’t go away like it used to. It’s the nagging stuff. That’s one of the reasons you take more time off during the season. You get that extra day here and there, so you have something left when your team needs you the most.
After an injury wrecked, career-worst 2008 season Helton bounced back nicely last year, starting 147 games and hitting .325 while topping a .900 OPS for the 10th time in 12 full seasons. Despite saying that he “had nothing left at the end of the year” he actually batted above .300 in every month and went 19-for-43 (.442) during the Rockies’ final 11 games before a poor four-game playoff performance.
Of course, whether or not his actual performance shows that Helton wore down late in the season giving a 36-year-old with back problems the occasional day off is never a bad idea. When he’s on the bench the Rockies will turn to Jason Giambi at first base, which while a huge downgrade defensively does allow them to keep a powerful left-handed bat in the lineup while also keeping Giambi somewhat fresh in his usual pinch-hitting role.
Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was childhood friends with Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, so it was expected when Diaz took time away from the team on Monday to visit Fernandez’s family in Miami. They grew up on the same street in Cuba and played for the same youth baseball team and both would ultimately wind up playing Major League Baseball in the United States.
In the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Reds, Diaz hit a 2-1 Robert Stephenson fastball out to left-center field for a no-doubt grand slam. Teammate Yadier Molina gave Diaz a tight hug as he crossed home plate.
Before Tuesday’s game, Diaz said that the best way to honor Fernandez was to play with his passion, as MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports. Diaz said, “I only play for [Fernandez’s] family right now.”
Here’s the video.
The Red Sox would have clinched the AL East if one of two things happened on Tuesday night: the Red Sox themselves beat the Yankees, or the Orioles defeated the Blue Jays. Neither happened.
The Jays soundly took down the Orioles 5-1 behind six strong innings from Aaron Sanchez. Josh Donaldson went 2-for-2 with a two-run home run and a pair of walks and leadoff batter Ezequiel Carrera went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, an RBI single, a walk, and three runs scored.
Meanwhile, at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees outlasted the Red Sox for a 6-4 win, responding to both two-run innings the Sox had in the sixth and seventh with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh. Gary Sanchez hit his 20th homer of the season. Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin also contributed dingers. Starter Luis Cessa pitched well, limiting the Sox to two runs over six innings on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Red Sox starter David Price struggled, yielding six runs in 6 1/3 innings. Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard got into trouble in the ninth inning but was able to wiggle out of trouble to finish out the game.
Once again, the Red Sox will be able to clinch the AL East on Wednesday with a win over the Yankees or a Blue Jays loss to the Orioles.