Rockies bring back Todd Helton as special assistant to GM

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Rockies are adding a new member to their baseball operations who just so happens to be their career leader in games, hits and pretty much every other hitting category.

Retired first baseman Todd Helton joined the team as a special assistant to general manager Bill Schmidt. Helton’s new role includes pitching in with some draft preparation and scouting but mostly focusing on assisting at the minor-league level.

“I’m glad Todd is jumping back in,” Rockies manager Bud Black said Saturday before his team played the Los Angeles Dodgers. “I think it’s good for Todd to get reconnected to our organization. … I love it.”

Helton spent 17 seasons with the Rockies, who selected him out of the University of Tennessee with the No. 8 pick in the 1995 draft. All Helton did was go on to become the franchise’s leader in runs (1,401), hits (2,519), doubles (592), homers (369) and RBIs (1,406) to name a few.

He had his No. 17 retired by the team on Aug. 17, 2014.

“His passion, where he’s at in his life, thought they were all good points and he has a lot to add,” Schmidt said of bringing Helton on board. “So we wanted to him to be a part of us.”

A five-time All-Star, Helton remains one of the primary faces of the franchise. His jersey is still a prevalent sight around Coors Field.

Helton received 52% of the Hall of Fame vote in his fourth year of eligibility and has up to six more appearances on the ballot.

The hiring of Helton could be the start of more big-name Rockies helping out. Former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle was hired as a special assistant to Schmidt in December.

Helton and Hurdle were with the Rockies during their only World Series appearance in 2007, when they were swept by the Boston Red Sox.

“There’s more out there that we want to get involved with us,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt sees Helton’s coaching style with the minor leaguers going in any direction he deems productive or perhaps being a sounding board.

“Just being there, having a player be able to talk to somebody that’s went through what they’re trying to go to,” Schmidt said. “He did it at a very high level and hopefully someday he’s going to be a Hall of Famer here in the near future.”

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