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07/27/12 9:30 PM ET

Nelson begins baseball activity after heartbeat issue

DENVER -- Following a scary week, Chris Nelson is healthy and back in the Rockies clubhouse after being hospitalized July 16 with an irregular heartbeat.

This time, he's going to stay away from the energy drinks.

"Too much caffeine, dehydration and stress," Nelson said Friday. "It was like a perfect storm."

Nelson played in the Rockies game against the Phillies on July 15 and went 1-for-3. He felt an accelerated heartbeat during the game but didn't think anything of it.

"Thought it was just the adrenaline of the game," Nelson said.

Nelson, 26, went home after lifting weights and showering and continued to feel his heartbeat a little off. When he got to Coors Field early Monday it was still racing.

It wasn't until he hopped onto a treadmill that his worst fears were confirmed.

"I was on the treadmill and put my hand on the heart monitor, and it wasn't registering. So I thought, 'This machine is broken!' I went to the next one, and the next one. It wasn't reading. I went to [assistant athletic trainer] Scott [Gehret], and we went straight to the hospital."

Nelson spent a night at Sky Ridge Hospital before his heart had to be shocked back into correct rhythm.

"My rhythm was OK, and then it started going crazy. Then it was back to normal, then it'd start going crazy again," Nelson said. "It was all out of whack."

Nelson, placed on the 15-day disabled list July 17, has been cleared for baseball activity. He ran yesterday and has been hitting the past few days.

The Rockies are hoping Nelson can return to his recent form. Splitting time at third and second base, the 2004 first-round pick hit .325 in June.

"He'll have three or four days where we'll ramp him up," manager Jim Tracy said. "If he clears all the hurdles he needs to clear, we'll get him out and playing again."

Helton returns from hip injury, activated off DL

DENVER -- The Rockies reinstated Todd Helton from the 15-day disabled list Friday, optioning left-handed pitcher Edwar Cabrera to Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"Still sore, but it's good enough," said Helton, who was placed on the disabled list July 13 with a sore right hip and played two games with rookie affiliate Grand Junction.

Helton's hip issues have become more concerning than the back pains that have plagued him the past several years. Manager Jim Tracy will continue to give Helton, 38, a couple days off throughout the week.

"If he's physically capable of taking on the workload, then the program will be similar," Tracy said. "If he can play today and tomorrow that'd be great, then we'd back off Sunday for the day game."

Tracy will be watchful of how Helton's hip affects his batting mechanics.

"How will his leg kick feel? Is he able to get it up to the height he wants to?" Tracy said. "He'll have to do that and get it down on time. That's what it revolves around."

Helton entered Friday's game hitting .235 with seven homers.

Pitch count is flexible when starters are sharp

DENVER -- If the Rockies' young pitchers can perform like Jeff Francis did Wednesday against the D-backs, the 75-pitch limit will be thrown out the window.

"I'd be more than willing [to let them exceed it]," manager Jim Tracy said. "Actually, I want to."

Francis threw 97 pitches in six innings, helping the Rockies snap a three-game losing streak. Tracy let Francis pitch well past the limit, which was established last month as the club elected to go with a four-man rotation.

Tracy was able to go to a more conventional bullpen setup -- Adam Ottavino in the seventh inning, Matt Belisle in the eighth and Rafael Betancourt for the save -- than the piggy-back method the Rockies have used, where a long reliever takes over for the starter after four or five innings.

"It makes the bullpen better, it makes everything better," Tracy said.

Worth noting

• Right-hander Jhoulys Chacin will begin a rehab assignment this week, with one start at Class A Modesto then two with Double-A Tulsa, followed by one with Triple-A Colorado Springs.

Chacin has been on the disabled list since May 2.

• Utility infielder Jonathan Herrera, placed on the 15-day disabled list July 17 with a left wrist infection, is playing in a rehab game Friday night with Colorado Springs.

• Carlos Gonzalez became the sixth Venezuelan player to post three consecutive seasons of 20 or more homers when he hit his 20th homer of the year Monday night.

Trey Scott is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.