Out since July 8 with a hip injury, Todd Helton is back from the disabled list and batting fifth in the Rockies’ lineup tonight.
Before the DL stint Helton started 58 of 77 games at first base and the Rockies figure to give him regular time off in an effort to keep the 38-year-old healthy. Michael Cuddyer, who had been filling in at first base, will shift back to right field while Tyler Colvin and Andrew Brown losing playing time.
Helton has hit just .235 with a .730 OPS in 256 plate appearances this season, but he’s signed through next year as part of a renegotiated long-term contract that allowed the Rockies to defer payments until 2023.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.