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Sunday, October 21, 2007
Snowstorm forces Rockies' home workout inside

Associated Press

DENVER -- Two thoughts crossed Todd Helton's mind when he awoke to a snowstorm Sunday.

"Good hunting weather," the Colorado Rockies first baseman said. "We don't have to go out on the field and practice today. That was my only other thought. It will be a short day for us, a good day. A good day to sit on the couch, I know that."

The snowstorm forced the Rockies indoors for their next-to-last workout before flying off to the AL champion's city for the World Series that starts Wednesday night.

Batters took their cuts in cages beneath the stands at Coors Field, and pitchers split up and threw off the indoor mounds next to the home and visitors' batting cages.

"I played street hockey in Canada," pitcher Jeff Francis said. "Do you think some snow is going to bother me?"

A few players ventured outside and tossed some baseballs and snowballs around near the tarp-covered infield, and after the snow stopped, right-hander Jason Hirsh went out to the warning track in right field where the snow wasn't sticking for some long toss.

The snowfall isn't necessarily a pretense to what the teams will face when the World Series returns to Denver on Saturday night.

"Well, we don't play here for another week and you know how the weather is here," Helton said. "It could be 80 degrees in a week, so I'm not concerned about that."

And he's not concerned about the cold weather on the road, either.

"That's real cold out there, it sort of bites you a little bit back East," Helton said. "But we don't care. We're playing in a World Series. Weather's not going to be an issue."

The snow began melting by the afternoon and the forecast for Denver called for a high of 53 degrees Monday with upper 60s and lower 70s the rest of the week leading up to the first World Series games in the Rocky Mountains.

With the forecast calling for several inches of snow Sunday, the Rockies had all their pitchers throw in a 10-inning simulated game Saturday, when the temperature was in the 60s.

Helton went 5-for-6 in the game but said it didn't help him find his missing stroke -- he's hitting just .185 in his first postseason.

"Simulated game's not going to do anything for me. It's for the pitchers," Helton said. "The pitchers got their work in, that's about it."

Much has been made of the Rockies' record eight-day layoff between their NLCS sweep of Arizona and the start of the World Series. They've won 21 of 22 games but will the break rejuvenate them or make them stale?

"There's no way to go out and keep playing and stay in the same rhythm that we've been on," Helton said. "Whether it's good or bad, we won't know until we get out there and play.

"Personally, I think it's good for some of the older fellas."

Rookie right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, a Dominican, said he took his father to Breckenridge Ski Resort during an off-day Thursday to show him snow for the first time.

Even if snowflakes fall during the Fall Classic, Jimenez said he won't be bothered because he grew accustomed to pitching in it during a snowy April at Triple-A Colorado Springs.

It was even worse in 2006, outfielder Jeff Baker said.

"Last year it was miserable, snowing like this and somehow, I don't know how it happened but they would always get the field cleared and then sure enough we'd play in about 32 degrees with about 15 people there," Baker said. "We got lucky up here this year. It wasn't that cold at all. We didn't get any snow, nothing.

"This is the first time we really got it."