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.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.