PHOENIX -- The Rockies placed first baseman Todd Helton on the 15-day disabled list with a left forearm strain and called up infielder Ryan Wheeler from Triple-A Colorado Springs to start Thursday night's opener of a four-game series against the D-backs.
Helton's placement on the DL is dated to April 20, and he will be eligible to return May 5. Helton sustained the injury while playing in the cold at Coors Field during a doubleheader with the Mets on April 16. He went 2-for-4 against the Mets two days later, but hasn't played since an 0-for-2 showing against the D-backs last Friday.
Helton hoped the injury would heal quickly, and the Rockies gave him nearly a week. But on Thursday, they decided to place him on the DL, so they would not continue to essentially play a roster spot short. Helton, 39, nearly went into Wednesday afternoon's 12-inning, 6-5 victory over the Braves at Coors Field, but said the wrist was "not as good as I wanted it."
He will hold off on swinging the bat until he is sure he won't set himself back, but is improving.
"It's those tendons that go into the wrist," Helton said. "It just bothers me to swing. It's gotten a lot better but I'm sure one good swing, I'd be right back where I started. So I'll let this thing get healed up and get right back after it."
Helton hopes to be playing as soon as possible after he is eligible.
"We wanted to give him every opportunity to get healthy," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's so important to our club. It got to the point to where it was still going to be a few more days at least before he felt good about really letting it go with the bat."
Helton is hoping to bounce back from a 2012 season that ended in August because of right hip surgery, hitting .268 with one home run, three doubles and 10 RBIs in 13 games.
Right-handed-hitting Jordan Pacheco is batting .316 with four RBIs in 38 at-bats, and is 5-for-14 since Helton left the lineup.
The left-handed-hitting Wheeler, 24, obtained from the D-backs during the offseason for left-handed relief pitcher Matt Reynolds, hit.348 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 15 games at Colorado Springs. Wheeler made his Major League debut with the D-backs last season (.239, one home run, 10 RBIs in 50 games) while playing primarily third base. He has been playing mostly first base at Colorado Springs.
Weiss went with Wheeler on Thursday rather than right-handed-hitting Chris Nelson because the Rockies were facing D-backs righty Trevor Cahill. Weiss said Nelson would be back in the lineup Friday.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.