Todd Helton ready to play what will likely be his final season

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Todd Helton is under contract for $5 million in 2013, but there was some uncertainty whether he’d come back following hip and knee surgeries. However, the 39-year-old first baseman told Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post today that he’s ready to return for what will likely be his final season in the majors.

“I am back baby,” Helton said with a laugh. “When you are 39 years old, coming off hip surgery, those things don’t really go good together when you are talking about a baseball player. There was some uncertainty and doubt after last season. But as I got into it, it only fueled my appetite to keep playing and keep getting better.”

Helton underwent season-ending surgery last August to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and then had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in November. But he was motivated to return following a meeting with new manager Walt Weiss last month and recently took batting practice with no issues. While he is projected to be the starting first baseman in 2013, the Rockies will keep an open mind with his health, which means Michael Cuddyer, Tyler Colvin and Jordan Pacheco will all be options to fill in when he needs rest.

Helton batted just .238/.343/.400 with seven home runs, 37 RBI and a .743 OPS in 69 games last season. However, he still owns a fantastic .320/.419/.545 lifetime batting line and a .964 career OPS over 16 major league seasons, all with the Rockies. He should make for an interesting Hall of Fame case, but it might be harder for him to get support that it has been for former teammate Larry Walker, who at least spent six years in Montreal and two in St. Louis.

Orioles place Chris Davis on injured list

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The Orioles announced on Sunday that first baseman Chris Davis has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a hip injury. Pitcher Evan Phillips was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk.

It is unclear when Davis, 33, suffered the injury, but he hadn’t started since Thursday. Davis famously got off to a very slow start — setting a record for futility — but has hit better over the last six weeks or so. Since April 13, he has a .229/.302/.427 batting line with five home runs and 15 RBI in 106 plate appearances. Still not what the Orioles want, but better than nothing.

Renato Núñez and Trey Mancini will handle first base while Davis is recovering from his injury.