Todd Helton injured his hip in early June and spent two weeks on the disabled list last month before rejoining the lineup, but the Rockies announced that the 38-year-old first baseman will undergo season-ending surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum.
Helton told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he chose to have the surgery now because the recovery timetable is typically six months and he wants to be ready for spring training and plans to play next season.
Helton had a bounceback season last year, hitting .302 with an .850 OPS, but will finish this year hitting just .238 with a .743 OPS in a career-low 69 games. He’ll be paid $5 million next season in the final year of a long-term contract, but as part of the renegotiated deal the Rockies will owe him another $13 million in deferred money to be paid out from 2014-2023.
Colorado selected Helton with the eighth overall pick in the 1995 draft and he’s played his entire 16-season career for the Rockies, hitting .320 with 354 homers in 2,123 games for a .964 OPS that ranks third among active hitters. That includes a .350 batting average and 1.060 OPS at Coors Field, compared to a .289 batting average and .864 OPS on the road.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.