SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton plans to play more and play harder this spring than in the past. But his appearance was purely for show in Saturday's opener -- he squatted behind the plate and caught a ceremonial first pitch.
When Helton does join Cactus League action, he insists there will be no taking it easy because of back problems. The team trained in Tucson, Ariz., and took long bus rides before this year, and Helton has been excused from those trips for years.
"I don't even know how many at-bats somebody usually gets in Spring Training -- just say more than last year," Helton said. "I hope it's more productive than fun. I'd like to get a lot accomplished."
Manager Jim Tracy talked with Helton on Saturday and said he'll most likely make his debut Monday against the D-backs. Tracy also said veteran pinch-hitter Jason Giambi will be available.
Helton hit .259 with a home run and three RBIs in 27 at-bats last spring.