Todd Helton lands on DL with stiff back, pulled hamstring
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who is sitting on two homers and 16 RBI halfway through the season, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with back and hamstring issues prior to Wednesday’s game. The Rockies called up quad-A slugger Brad Eldred to replace him on the roster and included him in the lineup for Wednesday’s game aganst the Rockies. Helton, who has dealt with chronic back troubles for years, is believed to have injured the leg in batting practice last week. He had three straight two-hit games against the Red Sox from June 22-24, but he was just 3-for-22 since. He was without an extra-base hit since homering on June 15. While Helton has been a mainstay in the Colorado lineup for 13 years now, the Rockies don’t lack for options in replacing him. The 29-year-old Eldred was hitting .267/.323/.575 with 22 homers in Triple-A, and while Colorado Springs is noted for being a great hitting environment, he was performing just as well on the road as at home. Jason Giambi, who is batting .237/.385/.387 in limited action this season, also figures to see considerable action against righties. A straight platoon is unlikely, though. While Eldred is a right-handed hitter, he was actually performing much better against righties in Triple-A. The Rockies also have Brad Hawpe and Chris Iannetta as alternatives. Hawpe, while strictly an outfielder as a major leaguer, started his pro career as a first baseman and got a refresher course at the position this spring. Playing him at first would make it easier to get the suddenly red-hot Dexter Fowler into the lineup against righties. Iannetta is another who has never played first in the majors. However, he has worked out at the position and he got in an inning at third base during Tuesday’s game. He’s gone 7-for-19 with three homers and two doubles in his last five games.