Helton feeling hale and happy

Helton feeling hale and happy

Helton feeling hale and happy
PITTSBURGH -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton's back was loose and his heart was in a thankful place on Sunday morning.

Helton said his back felt much better, two days after it locked when he slipped while doing a shuffle exercise while warming up on a wet field at PNC Park. He took batting practice on the field for the first time since Thursday.

Before the injury, Helton was hitting .278 with a home run and four RBIs in the season's first six games. After battling back problems and related weakness in his legs last year and hitting .256 with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 118 games, the start was a positive development. Helton, 37, a five-time All-Star, said it looks as if the issue is temporary.

"Stuff like that happens; [you're] just glad you don't get tweaked too bad," Helton said. "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."

Helton was able to pull some line drives into the outfield during batting practice on Sunday morning. It was unclear if he would be available during Sunday afternoon's finale of four games against the Pirates. Jason Giambi started for the second time this season.

After being placed in the lineup just before Friday's game, Giambi knocked a three-run homer in his first at-bat and went 1-for-3.

"That's what I'm here for, to help 'Toddie' out and take some at-bats when they need me to," Giambi said. "I've never dealt with back issues. It's tough. You can play through a bad quad. You can play through a bad calf, even a bad shoulder. But with a bad back, you can't really do much."