SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Todd Helton is finally back on the diamond, where he belongs.
The 39-year-old baseball veteran can find solace - and maybe even a little silence amongst his teammates practicing at Rockies spring training for the first time since he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving.
His teammates and manager stood by their first baseman Saturday, in his ability - and more importantly his character.
"It's difficult to see one of your boys going through the stuff that he was going through. But at the end of the day we all know what kind of player and what kind of person he is," said Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. "I'm sure he feels bad about it."
Helton, via the Colorado Rockies, released an apology the day after his arrest.
He fielded groundballs and took batting practice at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick like he has done for the last seventeen years with the franchise.
"It was good to see him out there. He's been everything you would expect," new manager Walt Weiss said. "He's taken it [the arrest and ensuing reaction] head on. He's dealing with it. Then we'll turn the page and get ready for the season."
The Rockies are coming off their worst season team history, losing 98 games, and so is Helton. He batted .238, hit 7 home runs and accounted for 37 RBI in just 69 games, which were all career lows. (That excludes his first season when was called up from the minor league midway through.)
Helton had surgery to fix a hip injury that bothered him most of the 2012 season.
A healthy hip will likely enhance his stats, but this resurgence as a player will still take time. That recovery in fitness, along with his reputation and pending legal action, are a comeback that his teammates fully believe in.
"Obviously, for him, it's disappointing. And for a lot of people it's probably disappointing," said Yorvit Torrealba, former Rockies catcher who was just recently picked up by Colorado again. "I don't judge him for what happened I still believe he is one of the best players in baseball, one of the nicest guys in the clubhouse, and he has all my support."
Helton will tell his side of the story for the first time on Sunday.
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