Helton expected back on Sunday
First baseman scheduled to play three or four innings vs. Padres
PEORIA, Ariz. -- Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who hasn't played this spring because of the back injury that cost him about half of last season and required surgery in September, is scheduled to play three or four innings in Sunday's game against the Padres at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson.
Helton has been hitting off full-speed pitching recently and doing various drills in the field. On Saturday, his last day of preparation, he will do sliding drills, according to Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger, who said the goal is for Helton to have two at-bats.
Helton, 35, hit .264 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs in 83 games, by far his least-productive and least-healthy season. The surgery repaired a bulging disk, which was putting pressure on a nerve. He hasn't played this spring, but all along he has said his condition was improving and he would be ready when the season starts on April 6 against the D-backs at Chase Field.
In addition, third baseman/outfielder Ian Stewart, limited to one appearance this spring because of strained left biceps, is expected to play on Sunday. He took batting practice on Friday and has been swinging in the cage.
Utility man Jeff Baker, out with tenderness in his right elbow, fielded ground balls on Friday, but no date has been set for his return to the lineup.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.