Helton goes on 15-day DL with sore back

Updated: July 4, 2008, 7:38 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- A Colorado Rockies' season soured by injury and inconsistency took yet another ugly turn Friday when slumping slugger Todd Helton went on the disabled list for just the third time in his career.

Helton
Helton
"It's definitely a relief to get a chance to feel better and hopefully be productive when I get back," said Helton, whose strained lower back landed him on the 15-day DL.

"It's disappointing, too. You never want to go on the disabled list," Helton said. "You always feel like you're letting your team down, fans down. But you also let them down when you go out there and stink every night."

The 34-year-old first baseman who brought a career .332 batting average into the season is hitting just .266 with seven homers and 29 RBIs. Over his last 22 games, he's hitting .182 (14-for-77) and was moved from the cleanup spot to hitting second in the lineup.

Helton aggravated his chronically bad back when he took a big cut and whiffed on a pitch from San Diego left-hander Randy Wolf on Wednesday night.

"It's been bad for a while," Helton said. "I've been feeling pain going down into my leg for a while and my butt. Then my back, the last few days, really locked up. I felt like I could deal with one. One's affecting the other."

After sitting out Thursday night's game against Florida, "he walked in and felt a little worse today," team athletic trainer Keith Dugger said. "That made our decision even easier."

The Rockies recalled power prospect Joe Koshansky from Triple-A Colorado Springs to take his place.

"We feel we're best served by shutting this thing down for a while and give him a chance to heal rather than pushing his way through this one," manager Clint Hurdle said. "I don't think he's capable of pushing his way through this one."

Helton said he's likely going to get a cortisone injection Tuesday and won't push his return.

"I'm not going to set a time deadline," he said. "I'll be back when I feel like I can field a ground ball and swing a bat and hit it farther than second base."

This is the third trip to the DL in Helton's 11-year career and his first since 2006. In his first 10 full seasons in the major leagues, Helton played an average of 154 games, and he's never missed more than 18 games in any one season.

Even with a bad back, Helton's stellar defense was on display night in and night out. Starting all but five of the Rockies' 86 games, he led National Leaguers with 79 double plays and was tops among NL first basemen with 890 chances.

Helton is the second Rockies starter to go on the DL in 48 hours. On Wednesday, the Rockies placed ace Jeff Francis on the 15-day DL with shoulder inflammation, which they believe explains his fall from a 17-9 record last year to 3-7 this season.

Also, center fielder Willy Taveras missed his third straight game with a sore left quadriceps Friday night and could be another candidate for the disabled list if his recovery lingers through the weekend.

Koshansky is hitting .281 with 18 home runs and 78 RBIs in 82 games for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. He was expected to be in uniform for Friday night's game against the Marlins.

"He's leading the league in RBIs, he's hitting home runs, he's playing first base and he plays about every day," Hurdle said. "So, he's steady."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press