SAN FRANCISCO -- The bright side of Rockies first baseman Todd Helton showed itself Monday afternoon with his RBI double in a 4-0 victory over the Giants. The bat speed and a swing that stayed behind the ball produced the line drive the Rockies expect out of their No. 3 hitter.
But the hit brought him to double figures in RBIs. He's hitting .258 with one home run. Can Helton set aside his tendency to beat himself up to look at the bright side?
"No, not really," Helton said. "The only thing I've done good this year is separate my offense from my defense. I've been able to play good defense when I've wanted to sulk and cry about my offense -- not sulk and cry, but you know ..."
Helton, who entered the season a .328 career hitter after a .325 performance last season, will turn 38 on Aug. 20, has a history of back trouble, and for the last several years has started slowly in the home run department, so big-time power is more a dream than a reasonable expectation. But one is not many. The RBIs and the lack of drive disturb him.
The saving grace is the Rockies entered Tuesday night's game against the Giants a season-best three games above .500. Leadoff man Carlos Gonzalez, No. 2 hitter Seth Smith and cleanup hitter Troy Tulowitzki have provided power lately.
"It's not fun to go out and not only do your job bad but to let your team down," said Helton, who said he has looked at video over his last 10 years to study his swing and gauge what his body is capable of producing. "That's one of the beautiful things about playing a team sport is being able to pick up a teammate, being able to help him out. They've basically carried me up to this point, but I'd like to show up sooner or later. ... I'm still confident."
Can the Rockies continue to carry a No. 3 hitter producing so little? Helton said he doesn't care where he hits and noted that he hit well when manager Jim Tracy briefly moved him to No. 5 (.333, .568 on-base percentage). Tracy sad he appreciates the unselfishness, but Helton will stay in the third spot.
"I just feel very strongly that if we're going to get Todd Helton going, he's hitting right where he needs to hit to give him every opportunity to get himself untracked," Tracy said. "You can't move this guy around and afford the opposition to think to themselves, 'Can we pitch around him here? Do we not even have to bother with him?'"