Tag:Todd Helton
Posted on: March 16, 2011 11:22 pm

Stuff my editors whacked from the column

PEORIA -- Outtakes from time spent hanging out with San Diego (the Padres, not the Chicken). ...

-- New center fielder Cameron Maybin breezed through an early gaffe: He tweeted at the beginning of camp that he had become ill after eating at Panda Express.

Innocent mistake. No, not eating at Panda Express, but tweeting about getting sick afterward. What he didn't know was that one of the Padres' minority owners also owns that fast-food chain.


He subsequently cleared that up on Twitter, and now it's a funny story. Not long afterward, the owner sent him a $100 gift certificate to Panda Express.

-- Ace Mat Latos is helping Maybin break in a second outfielder's glove this spring. Maybin has his gamer, but he -- and others -- always have a second glove he's breaking in. Latos' job: He's using Maybin's "future" gamer to shag balls during batting practice.

"Me and him chat in center field a lot, and whenever there's batting practice I'll get out there and use his glove," Latos says. "You've gotta help your outfielders. You think back to what Will Venable and Tony Gwynn Jr. did for me last year, making all those plays.

"He's a great guy. I've gotta put a pocket in there for him."

-- More glove talk: Veteran Brad Hawpe has a thankless job in "replacing" Adrian Gonzalez, but the former Colorado outfielder has a running start on a Gold Glove in moving to first base this year.

The glove he's using was given to him by former Rockies teammate Todd Helton, a three-time Gold Glove winner. One clue is the way "Todd Helton" is clearly stitched onto the thumb area of the black glove.

"I'm working on breaking in some other gloves, but until I get something ready, I'm using this one," says Hawpe, who was a first baseman in high school and at Louisiana State but moved to the outfield once he landed in the Colorado organization because Helton sure wasn't going anywhere.

Hawpe said the advice Helton gave him over the winter about playing first simply was to "keep everything slow."

There was not much teasing about Hawpe's impending position change.

"No," Hawpe says. "He's excited. Like he said, 'We're boys.' He was nothing but excited."

Sunblock Day: Whew boy, high of 90 on Wednesday. Hot, hot desert sun. Love it.

Likes: The Tee Pee Mexican joint in Phoenix. Funky little building and outstanding food. Recommended: The chicken burro covered with enchilada sauce. ... Tom Waits, Darlene Love and Leon Russell inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Perfect, and long overdue. Love is incredibly underrated and Waits is one of the all-time great songwriters and lyricists. And glad to see Elton John get Russell back in the limelight. Their disc, The Union, is very good. Some of Elton's best work in years. ... The Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central High basketball team beating Hillsdale 49-35 Wednesday night to win its first-ever Regional tournament. Next up for my Falcons: A state quarterfinal game next Tuesday against 24-0 Schoolcraft.

Dislikes: Too many teams and people left to see, and too few days left of spring training to get to everybody. It's going to take some creative scheduling.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"The piano has been drinking
"My necktie is asleep
"And the combo went back to New York
"The jukebox has to take a leak
"And the carpet needs a haircut
"And the spotlight looks like a prison break
"'Cause the telephone's out of cigarettes
"And the balcony's on the make
"And the piano has been drinking
"The piano has been drinking...
"And the menus are all freezing
"And the light man's blind in one eye
"And he can't see out of the other
"And the piano-tuner's got a hearing aid
"And he showed up with his mother
"And the piano has been drinking
"The piano has been drinking"

-- Tom Waits, The Piano Has Been Drinking (But Not Me)

Posted on: September 19, 2010 7:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 6:31 pm

Twins still unsure of Morneau's return

Justin Morneau finally is having many more good days than bad while battling post-concussion syndrome and for that, the Twins are thrilled.

But as for when we'll next see Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP who hasn't played since July 7, Morneau isn't far enough along to where the Twins feel they can address that definitively.

"He continues to make progress," Twins general manager Bill Smith says. "I don't know if he'll be back this year or not. As I've said, we're not going to do anything to jeopardize his long-term health or his long-term career.

"Those two things are much more important than whether he plays next week, or next month."

Morneau was hitting .345 with a 1.055 slugging percentage when he left the game on July 7. He had 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 81 games. He was set up for another monster year.

Then, bam.

Troublesome thing is, this isn't Morneau's first bout with a concussion in the majors, it isn't his first bout with a concussion, period. An old hockey player from Canada, Morneau had concussions on the ice before his baseball career started. He was disabled in April, 2005, with a concussion suffered when he was hit in the head with a Ron Villone pitch.

Those all feed into why the Twins and Morneau are forced to take thing so slowly this time. Good news for the club is, in Morneau's absence, Jim Thome has been incredibly productive in more at-bats than originally was planned. The Twins' depth has been a saving grace.

As for Morneau, Smith says, "Every one of us, including Justin, would love to have him back in the four hole."

Question is, when?

Likes: How much fun is this NL West race going to be these last two weeks? ... The Braves and Phillies this week. ... Watching Colorado's Todd Helton play first base. ... Watching Troy Tulowitzki swinging the way he's swinging. It's just incredible to watch. ... Looking forward to seeing Texas play this week. ... Ted Simmons, the Padres' bench coach, with his interest in managing. With all the jobs that will be open this winter, an imaginative team could make a real good hire. ... What a great thing that Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio should be OK after suffering a heart attack following the win over Notre Dame. ... Did you see that MSU-ND finish? If there are any more finishes close to that the rest of the way in college football, it's going to be a fun season. What a finish! ... Lots of good buzz about the new Hawaii Five-0 premiering this week on -- yes -- CBS, but what I love is that they kept the old theme song. That tells me right there that they're handling the show with care. ... Gotta get to the movie theater to see The Town. Don't know when I'll have time, but it looks like a winner.

Dislikes: Get the maple bats out of the game before someone gets killed. Come on, what's it going to take?

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now me and my mate were back at the shack
"We had Spike Jones on the box
"She said, "I can't take the way he sings
"But I love to hear him talk"
"Now that just gave my heart a throb
"To the bottom of my feet
"And I swore as I took another pull
"My Bessie can't be beat"

-- The Band, Up on Cripple Creek

Posted on: October 13, 2009 12:33 am

Colorado's Street with no name

DENVER -- It was about as difficult a way to lose as there is.

Colorado scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth Monday to take a two-run lead, 49,940 purple-clad fans were ready for the ride to continue and closer Huston Street moved the club to within one strike of sending this NL Division Series back to Philadelphia.

And then blam, blam, blam.

Chase Utley drew a two-out walk on a full-count pitch, Ryan Howard followed with a game-tying double and Jayson Werth followed that with a base hit that scored what would be the winning run.

Manager Jim Tracy removed Street in favor of Joe Beimel at that point, but it was too late.

"I'm in shock, really," Street said after the 5-4 loss in the library-quiet Rockies clubhouse. "I tried to focus as much as I could on every pitch."

But he still couldn't stop the game from unraveling on him.

"I was out there fighting as hard as I could fight," continued Street, who was tagged with two losses and a blown save in the series. "Sometimes you get beat."

Across the way, Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who has been there all too often himself this year, took a moment out from the champagne shower to sympathize.

"Huston Street has no reason to hang his head," Lidge said. "Maybe he gets it done against another team."

From the beginning, the Rockies knew that Philadelphia and all of their left-handed starters was going to be a difficult matchup. Really, the Rockies matched up far better with St. Louis. Though they were careful with their words publicly, many privately were hoping that the Cardinals played their way into a first-round seeding against Colorado.

But it didn't happen. And just when the Rockies thought they were ready to roll, their season came crashing down around them.

"To have the game in your hands and then have them drop three [runs] on you," said shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who struck out with two on and two out to end the game in the ninth. "We had an opportunity at the end. That's all you can ask for."

"I'm proud of every one of these guys, no doubt about it," Colorado first baseman Todd Helton said. "[Manager Jim Tracy] was talking about guys being unselfish, and there's no doubt about it.

"We do have good guys. The guys here care."

Likes: Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, the projected Game 1 starter in the NLCS and the would-have-been Game 5 starter had the Phillies-Rockies series gone that far, never made it to Colorado. His wife delivered their first baby, a boy named Caleb, last week and Hamels stayed put, preparing for Tuesday's Game 5 start if it was needed. "We would have sent him back home yesterday anyway," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. ... Colorado manager Jim Tracy is right. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is going to be a big-time star one day. ... Sam's No. 3, a terrific breakfast joint downtown Denver. "So good it'll make ya wanna slap yo momma" says the marquee outside. And I've gotta say, as I was eating my Denver omelet Monday morning -- what else are you going to order in Denver? -- I was glad my momma wasn't with me, because the food was as advertised. ... In case you missed it when the season ended two Sunday's ago, Hal McCoy's sign-off column was exceptionally eloquent. The Hall of Famer is done as a beat writer, and reading this column, you can see why he lasted 37 years covering the Reds, one of the great runs of our time.

Dislikes: The Astros are interviewing 10 men as prospective managers. Ten? That's paralysis by analysis. If it takes a team that many interviews, then that team really isn't sure what it's looking for. Good luck, Houston fans. ... OK, I get it. Playoff ratings are up on television. Great. Now TBS and MLB, will you quit bombarding everybody with non-stop updates boasting about that fact? And if TBS doesn't pick up its camera angles, replays and certain broadcasters, the ratings won't remain up. And I'm not watching the George Lopez Show just on principle. Just as I wouldn't watch Frank TV, or whatever it was called, last year.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"And you can't find your waitress with a Geiger counter
"And she hates you and your friends and you just can't get served without her
"And the box-office is drooling, and the bar stools are on fire
"And the newspapers were fooling, and the ash-trays have retired
"'Cause the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking
"The piano has been drinking, not me, not me"

-- Tom Waits, The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)

Posted on: May 1, 2008 7:01 pm

Terrible news in Colorado

If you picked one player whose long-term absence would cripple the Colorado Rockies, it wouldn't be 2007 Most Valuable Player candidate Matt Holliday. Nor would it be face-of-the-franchise first baseman Todd Helton, nor starting pitcher Aaron Cook.

Without question, it would be shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

And losing him until at least the All-Star break with a torn tendon in his quadriceps is every bit as devastating for the Colorado Rockies as you can imagine.

Tulowitzki isn't simply a flashy glove. He wasn't just a hot Rookie of the Year candidate in '07.

No, in his one season on the job, Tulowitzki emerged as the Rockies' team leader and model player. Manager Clint Hurdle does not hesitate in saying that things turned around for the Rockies in '07 about a month into the season, when Tulowitzki steadied himself, gained some confidence and took off.

He led all NL rookies last season in hits (177), RBI (99), runs (104) and total bases (292). And according to Stats, Inc., his .987 fielding percentage is the best all-time by a rookie shortstop.

The crushing blow for the Rockies, however, is this: Tulowitzki's importance cannot be measured simply in numbers. As a rookie last season, the kid wouldn't hesitate to bark at a teammate if he thought the guy wasn't doing something the way it should be done -- or, worse yet, loafing.

The only thing that might be more rare than a rookie directing traffic in a major-league clubhouse is everybody else listening. That's the true measure of Tulowitzki's value, and how much respect he commands in the Rockies' clubhouse. Even when he was a 22-year-old rookie, the Rockies took their cues from him.

He was off to a rough start this season, hitting only .152 with one homer and 11 RBI. He already had committed two errors after being charged with only 11 in all of 2007.

The ironic thing is that Tulowitzki dropped 10 pounds over the winter, wanting to get lighter because with Kaz Matsui gone, Tulowitzki knew that he probably would spend much of this season batting second.

And always wanting to make sure to do things the right way, Tulowitzki knew that in the No. 2 hole, he would need his legs more. That particular batting slot demands moving runners over, a higher on-base percentage and perhaps even stealing more bags.

Hurdle was impressed not with the results of Tulowitzki's body-sculpting, but with the forethought that went into it. Again, there was his shortstop, anticipating a play, and then making it.

I loved Hurdle's spring quote when, after Tulowitzki made a backhanded glove-flip to second so start a double play, someone asked him whether it wasn't a little too flashy.

"Come on, guys," Hurdle responded. "Let an artist paint. Let a musician play."

He could say this partly because he knows flash is the last thing TUlowitzki is about. As the manager told me during another conversation in Arizona, "He's not about the bling. He's about trying to get outs."

In Tulowitzki's absence, those outs now will become even more difficult for a struggling Rockies club to obtain.

Colorado will miss him dearly. So, too, will baseball fans who appreciate it when a player comes along who pretty much embodies all that is right about the game.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com