Todd Helton paused, as if stepping out of the batter’s box, and confidently addressed his future after months of uncertainty. The greatest player in Colorado Rockies history will retire at the end of the season, he told The Denver Post on Saturday.
“Yes, this is it. It justseems like it’s time. It’s a young man’s game. I am 40 years old. I am looking forward to doing something else besides baseball. Whatever that may be. I am not sure yet,” said Helton, sitting next to his wife, Christy. “I am going to start a new chapter not only in my life but our lives. It will be different. It will be difficult, but it will be exciting.” Helton, a former Central High School and University of Tennessee star, has been bracing for the day when he revealed his intentions to retire publicly for the first time.
Entering spring training, he was convinced 17 seasons would be enough, but his body sent him mixed signals. He felt better than he had for years after back, hip and knee surgeries.
“During the season I definitely wavered. It usually wasn’t from having a great game. I just enjoyed the competition, and I felt like I had bat speed. That’s what I will miss. The competition. I don’t know how I will replace that yet. There were days, I thought, ‘Maybe I can do this one more year,’ ” Helton said. “Then ultimately, it’s the travel, being away from the family. It is just time.” Helton intentionally waited this long to make sure he was at peace with his decision, as well as to prevent any fuss or a farewell tour. However, the Rockies return to Coors Field on Monday and given his gratitude to the millions of fans who have cheered him for nearly two decades, he wanted a chance to say goodbye during the season’s final nine game home stand. He will hold a news conference Monday.
“The people have been so nice and welcoming,” Helton said. “And they supported me throughout my career.” While still capable of grinding out an at-bat or making a terrific scoop at fi rst, Helton rea lizes h is skills have eroded. Even with his recent power surge, he entered Saturday hitting .244 with 13 home