Todd Helton plans to play next season after hip surgery

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Not that there was much doubt considering he’s under contract for $5 million, but Todd Helton confirmed that he’s planning to come back from hip surgery to play in 2013.

“I think, physically, I will be able to come back,” Helton said, via Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. “So I plan on coming back, but there are a couple of things still on my mind. I want to know I have a good chance to make it through next year–healthy. That will factor into it.”

In other words it’s not quite 100 percent that he’ll return, which seems natural considering he’s just six weeks removed from surgery to repair a torn labrum and still going through the recovery process at age 39.

This was Helton’s worst season, as the career .320 hitter batted just .238 while trying to play through the hip injury before shutting things down in August. He’ll likely be a part-time player in 2013, but it’d be nice to see Helton go out on a high note.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”