Todd Helton doubles in the seventh for 2,500th career hit

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Long time Rockies first baseman Todd Helton sliced a double down the left field line against Reds reliever Curtis Partch in the bottom of the seventh for his 2,500th career hit. Helton narrowly beat left fielder Chris Heisey’s throw to second base for the double. There was a brief pause in the game as Helton took off his helmet and acknowledged the standing ovation given to him by the excited crowd at Coors Field.

Helton, now 40 years old and in his 17th Major League season, had been hitless in his previous seven attempts to get #2,500. He went 2-for-5 with two three-run home runs on Friday, but struck out three times in four at-bats tonight and was 0-for-2 with an intentional walk today. Helton is also seven RBI away from 1,400 for his career. Today’s double was the 584th of his career, leaving him one shy of Rafael Palmeiro for 16th on the all-time list.

The Rockies had a 7-2 lead over the Reds at the time of Helton’s double, well on their way to an easy victory in the series finale. They had beaten up Reds starter Mike Leake for six runs in four innings. Meanwhile, Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood could only last two innings before being pulled due to a bruised thumb.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉