Rockies manager Walt Weiss has many obvious connections to the franchise as a former player. There is just one that might get awkward, and that has to do with his former teammate Todd Helton. After Helton yanked a pinch-hit, 2-run homer today to lead the Rockies to a 2-1 victory and series sweep over the San Diego Padres, Weiss had the following to say about the 39-year-old Rockies G.O.A.T:
I want to respect what he’s done in his career…And he’s earned the benefit of the doubt for the type of career he’s had. And to be honest with you, the first couple of days I saw him in spring training taking batting practice, I said, ‘This guy’s still got a lot left.’
If Weiss did not genuinely believe that Helton still has something left in the tank, he could have graciously ended this quote after the part where he talked about the benefit of the doubt. As we get a sense of Weiss and how he is going to handle this team, straight-forwardness and candor are among his top priorities. If he says it he means it.
It is with that in mind that I include this thought from Weiss about Helton doing more pinch-hitting this year:
He’s going to have some at-bats in those type of situations late in games…It’s a credit to him being mentally ready and focused on a day he had off.
And Weiss will continue to have those expectations for those at-bats in the future. The thought of Helton entering games cold either as a pinch-hitter or as a defensive replacement has always made me a little nervous. For now we will have to trust the line of communication between Helton and Weiss so that he does not end up in a bad position in terms of his effectiveness or, more importantly, his health.
If this is something that can work out, it gives the Rockies a serious weapon for situational at-bats. How frustrating is it to have a pinch-hitter come up in a big spot, clearly be overmatched, and wave at three pitches? Especially when you at least need the ball put in play. If it is something with which Helton is comfortable and the situation calls for it, this could benefit the Rockies in a season in which we know Helton will have plenty of days off.
It certainly paid off today, and the Rockies come home with a .500 road trip and an 8-4 record.