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Rockies vs. Reds Game 3 preview: This day belongs to Todd Helton

No matter what Jordan Lyles does against Mat Latos in Game 1 of the doubleheader today, it's all about Todd Helton.

Doug Pensinger

DENVER -- The Rockies hope to take a 2-1 series lead over the Reds in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Coors Field on Sunday, but even if they don't, that's not what today is about.

It's about the first homegrown star the Rockies ever had. It's about the guy who spent 17 years with an organization that never won its division and made the playoffs only twice in that span. It's about a player who hit .316/.414/.539 with 369 home runs, 592 doubles, 2,519 hits and a 133 OPS+ for his career.

It's about No. 17; it's about Todd Helton.

A near sold-out crowd is expected to flock to 20th and Blake to honor the greatest Rockie who ever lived. As part of his day, the club has mowed a giant "17" into the centerfield grass, painted the number next to the position he manned for nearly two full decades, and will have special baseballs and bases to note Helton's special occasion.

"I'm honored to be the first one," Helton said to a large gathering of media -- as well as Rockies reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who was in the room soaking up the wisdom of his former teammate -- prior to the game on Sunday.. "I just showed up to work everyday ... that's all I did, really. Some days that was enough, some days it wasn't. But to be honored for that is truly a special thing."

Helton has enjoyed retirement, using the opportunity to bond with his daughters and do things that he's never had a chance to do during the season. "I've spent a lot of time at the beach, even though I'm not a beach person, and I've golfed a lot," Helton said. "I'm trying to make some incredible days where I ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon. Colorado is a is the best place to do it."

Despite the adventurous summer days, the Colorado legend misses the gameday preparation of competition baseball offers, noting that it's impossible to replicate.

"You play the game for those situations where your cajones are in a little bit of a bind and you've gotta go out perform," Helton quipped. "I like that, and I'm gonna miss that."

Helton certainly had a lion's share of moments in which he came through at a high level when facing that kind of adversity on the field. That helped build an impeccable career -- one that Colorado baseball fans were lucky enough to enjoy for a long time.

"You never expect to be sitting right here, especially when you get into the big leagues," Helton said in response to a question about how it feels to have his number retired. "Staying there is your only thought, and once you stay, you want to be great. But I never envisioned this."

Justin Morneau, DJ LeMahieu still out; Ben Paulsen added to roster

The Rockies will be able to take advantage of an MLB roster rule for doubleheaders that should help given their situation with a couple of banged up players.

"Per the CBA rules, you can bring an extra player for that second game," Colorado manager Walt Weiss explained before the game. "Ben will be our guy being that Justin's a little sore."

Morneau, along with LeMahieu, was scratched from the lineup before last night's postponement due to a stiff neck. It's unclear whether one or both players will be used today.

"Both are still sore but getting treatment as we speak," Weiss elaborated. "I’m not sure if either one will start in either game, but they should be available."

Here are the lineups for Game 1.

Today's Lineups

Billy Hamilton - CF Charlie Blackmon - RF
Zack Cozart - SS Drew Stubbs - CF
Jay Bruce - RF Corey Dickerson - LF
Devin Mesoraco - C Michael Cuddyer - 1B
Brayan Pena - 1B Nolan Arenado - 3B
Kristopher Negron - 3B Mike McKenry - C
Skip Schumaker - 2B Josh Rutledge - SS
Chris Heisey - LF Charlie Culberson - 2B
Mat Latos - RHP Jordan Lyles - RHP