On Sunday, Helton said he felt much better.
Helton was in the lineup Friday night but was scratched when he felt his back lock up after taking a step during his pregame running. It had rained all day in Pittsburgh and was 45 degrees when the game began, conditions not conducive to fully loosening up. The Rockies were forced to call upon Helton to pinch-hit in the 14th inning when closer Huston Street's turn to bat came up with two out and the bases loaded. Helton grounded out, and the Pirates scored in the bottom of the 14th to win 4-3.
Because it's Helton, there is understandable concern about any back problems. He underwent back surgery in September 2008, capping off a season where he played just twice in the final three months, had a strong 2009 season but last year was bothered by lower back and leg stiffness and hit just .256 with eight homers and 37 RBI.
Helton changed his offseason training routine and incorporated an extensive amount of core strengthening into his regimen. He came to spring training fit and had a very good camp, helped by the Rockies move to Scottsdale, Ariz., which enabled Helton to play more road games -- while in Tucson, the Rockies protected his back and kept him off the bus rides to the Phoenix area for road games -- and face more major league pitchers.
In his first six games, Helton hit .278 (5-for-18) with one homer and four RBI. The homer was a three-run shot, his first since September 2009. He felt much better Sunday and took batting practice for the first time since April 7. Helton believes his back issue was not going to linger.
"Stuff like that happens," he said. "(You're) just glad you don't get tweaked too bad. You realize that every game you get to play is special, because you never know. When you take one step and get hurt or one crazy thing happens, it makes you appreciate all the times you're able to run around out there and be all right."
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