Rockies making Todd Helton a part-time player for stretch run


Todd Helton has hit well since returning from the disabled list two weeks ago, going 9-for-30 (.300) with two homers, two doubles, and a .927 OPS, but manager Jim Tracy said yesterday that the 36-year-old first baseman will not be used as an everyday player down the stretch.

We were doing a lot of searching early on, but he obviously got to a point where his legs fatigued. So if we’re mindful of what it was that sent him to the DL and we bring him back and push him, we’re completely defeating the purpose.

So far Tracy has given Helton back-to-back starts followed by one game off, with Jason Giambi or Melvin Mora replacing him at first base depending on whether the opposing pitcher is right-handed or left-handed.
That seems like a solid plan and so far at least has kept Helton productive after he struggled mightily before landing on the DL, but it can’t be very encouraging in the bigger picture given that the Rockies still owe him about $30 million.

Jason Vargas fractured his non-pitching hand

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Mets left-hander Jason Vargas has a non-displaced fracture of the hamate bone in his right hand, the team announced Sunday. Vargas sustained the injury after taking a comebacker off of his hand on Friday and is expected to consult with a hand specialist later today as the team settles on a course of action. Comments from GM Sandy Alderson indicate that surgery is a possibility, though the left-hander may also pitch through it for the time being.

Vargas, 35, signed a two-year, $16 million pact with the team last month. He completed a four-year run with the Royals in 2017, earning his first career All-Star nomination with an 18-11 record in 32 starts and producing a 4.16 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 6.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings. Prior to the incident, the southpaw was expected to help fill out the back end of the Mets’ Opening Day rotation.

Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News estimates that Vargas will likely miss the start of the season as he faces a two- to six-week recovery period. It’s a disappointing turn of events for a pitching staff that has been absolutely ravaged by injuries over the last couple of years.