SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - Todd Helton felt at home and at ease in the first inning when he stood on the plate facing A.J. Griffin on Sunday after a long recovery from injuries and a regrettable incident in which he was arrested under DUI charges.
"Yeah, it's good to see, we were in a home crowd," said Helton with his usual brevity. "The fans are great, that was nice to see".
Sunday's game against the Oakland A's was the first outing of the spring for Helton, who is preparing for what might certainly be his last season as a big-leaguer. After 15 years of appearing on the Colorado Rockies' opening day roster, the ever-competitive first baseman is trying to get his swing back to the best shape in which it can be, taking his 39 years of age into consideration.
"It felt good, I wish it felt better, though. It's about my timing. I feel physically and mentally well so now it's a matter of continuing with my preparation," Helton said.
Helton feels his batting practice sessions have been satisfactory. Now it's a matter of taking that success into real game situations, but he warns it's a matter of time. The 2013 Cactus League slate is still in its infantile stages.
"It's a feel thing. You want to peak before leaving camp, not when camp starts. I'm getting ready for the season and not for spring training."
"I am really excited about getting my swing back. I've worked with Pat Burgess (on) my hitting, and I'm starting to feel I'm hitting well. I want to see if I can improve my swing a little bit more."
Helton thinks he still has the ability to hit the ball, and that his strength and speed are improving, but consistency is still an issue for him.
"My bat speed is still there. (It's) not there every day, though. I don't have youth on my side in order to get loose. But my BP was great, I'm starting to (hit) the ball further. It's still there, but not as consistently as I'd like it to be," Helton said.