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Colorado Rockies Spring Training Preview: Todd Helton Keeps On Ticking At First Base

During the offseason, Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton announced that he plans to play out the rest of his three-year contract. This will largely depend on how well his body holds up as he approaches age 40. Helton played in only 118 games in 2010 due to a back injury. He spent a month on the disabled list in order to recover from it.

Overall, Helton hit .256/.362/.367 with eight home runs. That's the worst season he has had, even his 83-game season in 2008. While his 87 OPS+ would say that he was below average in 2010, Helton still got on base at a decent rate. After missing most of July, Helton looked much improved for the month of August, hitting four home runs with a .958 OPS. He went back into a funk during September, as did the rest of the team by the final couple of weeks of the season.

Helton appears fully prepared for the upcoming season.

Ty Wigginton was signed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal in the offseason and is expected to play all around the diamond, but he's going to be Helton's primary backup. While Helton's back issues could flare up again, Wigginton will likely see most of his playing time elsewhere. Jason Giambi is in camp on a Minor League deal and is battling more to be a pinch-hitter than anything else. Mike Jacobs is also in camp as a non-roster invitee, but is the leading candidate to play first base for the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox.

Down the pipeline, the Rockies are thin at first base with true prospects. The best of the bunch who play the position right now is Ben Paulsen. He had an. 827 OPS with 12 home runs for Hi-A Modesto. He should play in Tulsa this season. The future, however, may be in Nolan Arenado. Currently a third baseman, Arenado will move to Modesto after posting an .858 OPS with Low-A Asheville. While he has a strong arm, his lack of range at the hot corner could move him to the other side of the diamond.