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.

Video: Gift Ngoepe singles in his first major league at-bat

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Pirates infielder Gift Ngoepe, just called up from Triple-A Indianapolis, singled in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday evening against Cubs starter Jon Lester. It was a well-struck ground ball up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning. Unfortunately for him, the Pirates could not bring him around to score.

Ngoepe, who was pinch-hitting, stayed in the game to play second base.

Shelby Miller getting third opinion on elbow from Dr. James Andrews

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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Monday due to inflammation in his right elbow. He had a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Tuesday and is currently awaiting a third opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Craig Grialou of Arizona Sports reports. That he’s getting a third opinion seems to imply that Miller’s elbow issue is rather serious.

Miller, 26, hasn’t been able to catch a break since joining the Diamondbacks. Last year’s nightmarish season included a finger injury stemming from mechanical woes and a brief demotion to the minor leagues. In 20 starts in the majors last year, Miller posted an ugly 6.15 ERA. This year, his ERA is a mediocre 4.09 over four starts.

The Diamondbacks called up Zack Godley to take Miller’s spot in the rotation. There was some speculation that it would be Archie Bradley instead, but he’s been working out of the bullpen.