DENVER Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy is welcoming word that star first baseman Todd Helton plans to play at least one more year.
Helton had season-ending surgery on Aug. 10 to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.
Helton told The Denver Post that he intends to return in 2013 to play out the final year of his contract. He turned 39 last month.
The five-time All-Star is a lifetime .320 hitter, but batted a career-low .238 in 69 games.
Todd Helton knows himself better than anybody, and if he feels physically that hes capable of doing it, then theres a big part of me that says he will be bound and determined to walk back out here and have another bounce-back season, Tracy said Wednesday.
I just saw him this afternoon, and hes moving around with just a tremendous amount of vitality, Tracy said. You can tell by the way hes walking and moving around, hes pain-free, and hes in the weight room doing his thing.
Tracy said its likely that Helton would see his everyday role modified next year to include more days off.
Its not going to be to the extent of 145 games from this guy or something like that, Tracy said. Theres going to have be rest in between and things like that. But if in fact we can develop that type of framework and hes physically up to par with where he wants to be, I dont question Todd Helton for one minute, because Ive already seen him beat naysayers.
Tracy was referring to Heltons 2009 campaign, when he came back strong to hit .325 with 15 home runs in 151 games after struggling with back problems the year before, when he hit .264 with seven home runs in 83 games.
Helton told the Post that he understands that hell play fewer games in a season for his own good but also doesnt see himself as a part-time player.
I will have to have ample days off. I know that, Helton told the newspaper. If I come back, I expect to play as much as I can. How much? Its hard to tell.
Tracy said it was premature to address that question. He said hell sit down with Helton as he always does when the team heads into spring training.
Well have that conversation when the time comes, Tracy said. I dont want him to worry about it. I just want him to do his rehab work and get himself to where he feels he physically needs to be.
I think its more important for him to be allowed to have his space and do his thing, and we get to spring training, and we sit like he and I do every year, and we assess as to where hes at and what it is that he would be able take on. I wouldnt really even want to get into that today because I really have no idea, he said.