DENVER — The Rockies’ most beloved player is back.
Todd Helton, who spent his entire 17-year career as the club’s first baseman and is a prime Hall of Fame candidate, has rejoined the organization as special assistant to the general manager, GM Bill Schmidt announced prior to Saturday night’s game vs. the Dodgers.
Helton’s formalized title comes after he spent time at the club’s Minor League camp as a special instructor, doing on-field coaching, advising hitters and working fundamentals with first basemen. Helton, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., will travel to Minor League affiliates to help with players and assist in all areas of baseball operations.
It’s a role Helton hoped for by the end of his time in camp.
“I’d like to go out and see the [Rockies’ Minor League] teams play, based out of Knoxville,” Helton said in the March 30 edition of the Rockies Beat Newsletter. “I’d just tell them what I see, simple as that, answer any questions they have, and just be there.”
Schmidt had prioritized finding roles within the organization for standout players from Rockies history. Clint Hurdle, who managed the club from 2002-13 after stints as a Minor League and Major League hitting coach, was also recently named a special assistant to the GM. With that context, Saturday’s announcement didn’t come suddenly.
“We talked in the wintertime about him getting back involved, as well as him and Clint playing a bigger role,” Schmidt said.
During Spring Training, one of Helton’s projects was working with Michael Toglia, the Rockies’ No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline and a player many scouts believe has the defensive ability to match Helton’s Gold Glove-winning skills at the position.
Helton also brings coaching experience, which he gained as an assistant at the University of Tennessee and the USA Baseball program.
“He related to guys with his passion, where he’s at in his life, and they were all good points,” Schmidt said. “He has a lot of that. He wanted to be part of us.
“He actually talked to all of our Minor League hitters, gave a real heart-to-heart talk about what it takes to be successful.”
Also involved in Rockies Minor League camp this year were a handful of former players: outfielder Carlos González, pitcher Jorge De La Rosa, infielder Clint Barmes and catcher Yorvit Torrealba.
Schmidt also said there could be more familiar faces like Helton and Hurdle in front-office roles in the future.