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Rockies' Helton hopes to play in 2013 after hip surgery

The SportsXchange

Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton will be out for the balance of the season. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list and on Friday will undergo surgery to have a labrum tear in his right hip repaired.

Recovery time is about six months, and Helton, who turns 39 on Aug. 20, opted for the surgery at this point to be ready for spring training. He has one more year at $5 million on his contract.

He hit a career-low .238 this year with 16 doubles, seven homers and 37 RBI in 69 games, his fewest since he played 35 games in 1997 after being brought up to the Rockies in early August.

Helton was placed on the disabled list July 13 retroactive to July 9 with inflammation in his hip. He batted third -- where he was once a fixture in the lineup -- Sunday for the first time this season. A first-inning double gave Helton 960 extra-base hits to tie him with Hall of Famer Robin Yount for 44th all-time and move him two doubles behind Ivan Rodriguez, who is 21st. Helton then flied out, walked, struck out looking and grounded out, leaving him with a .343 on-base percentage and a .400 slugging percentage.

That's not the way Helton, a career .320 hitter with 2,420 hits, 570 doubles, 354 homers, 1,345 RBI and 1,360 runs scored, wanted to go out.

Helton said that when he was on the disabled list, he knew the labrum was torn and surgery would be needed. But he decided to try playing and made six starts.

"I wanted finish the year, but it wouldn't have been the best outcome," he said. "If I wanted to play next year, it was best to go ahead and get it done so I can be ready for spring training."

He will have the surgery, see how he feels and, he hopes, set his sights on the 2013 season. Helton's hip has bothered him since early June, making it difficult for him to raise his right leg at the start of his swing and preventing him from fully transferring his weight to his back leg and drive the ball with real authority.

"I think the world of this man," manager Jim Tracy said. "I've been privileged over the course of 11 years to have managed some very special people. This guy is arguably as good a competitor as I've ever been around."

Helton has already made one notable comeback late in his career. Back problems plagued him in 2008 when he played in just two games, both as a pinch hitter, after July 4 of that season and underwent back surgery on Sept. 30. He finished that year hitting .263 in 84 games with seven homers and 29 RBI.

In 2009, Helton played 151 games and hit .325 with 15 homers and 86 RBI. His back hampered Helton in 2010, when he hit .256 in 118 games with eight homers and 37 RBI. But in 2011, he hit .302 in 124 games with 14 homers and 69 RBI.

"I think Todd has every intention of playing next year," Tracy said. "He had a bad year in 2010 when he was dealing with a back issue, and there were a lot of questions about how much gas Todd Helton had left in his tank. And I can tell you, it wasn't greatly appreciated. So Todd showed up on a mission in 2011 and hit over .300."
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