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Helton to undergo surgery Tuesday

Helton to undergo surgery Tuesday

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton will undergo surgery on Tuesday to alleviate disk irritation in his back, the club announced Wednesday.

Helton met Wednesday with noted spine surgeon Robert Watkins, and they determined that Helton needs a microdiskectomy. Watkins will perform an arthroscopic procedure at Marina Del Rey (Calif.) Hospital to remove a small piece of Helton's bulging L5 disk. The procedure should take pressure off the irritated nerve.

Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said Helton will be limited to walking for two weeks, then will follow a rehab program that Watkins will prescribe after the surgery.

Dugger said Helton, who has dealt with back issues since 2002 and has had two at-bats since July 3, should be ready for Spring Training 2009. However, the days of Helton, 35, attempting to play every game are done.

"One key for him will be not playing in a fatigued state," Dugger said. "We need to make sure to be smart and give him rest."

Helton has a .328 career batting average, but in 2008, he hit .264 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 83 games.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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