Rockies' Todd Helton, 40, to retire
PHOENIX -- Todd Helton has had enough.
Having decided earlier this year that this will be his final season, the Colorado Rockies decided to go public.
"I didn't want to say I was going to return and then come back in," Helton said before Sunday's game against Arizona. "I talked to my wife and thought about my body and mentally how I felt going out there for every game. I'm 40. It's time to go. It's a young man's game."
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Helton has spent his entire 17-year major league career with the Rockies and set franchise records in nearly every offensive category. He announced his decision after Saturday night's 9-2 loss, when he hit his 586th double.
His final game at Coors Field is slated for Sept. 25 against Boston, which swept the Rockies in the 2007 World Series. The final game of his career figures to be Sept. 29 at the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"I wanted to go into the last homestand knowing it was the last," Helton said. "It was brought up to me last week that I couldn't look at it from my perspective. I had to look at it from the fans' standpoint. I couldn't be selfish about it."
Helton began Sunday as a career .317 hitter with 367 homers, 1,397 RBIs, 1,394 runs, a .415 on-base percentage and a .539 slugging percentage. He was an All-Star from 2000-04 and is the Rockies' leader in games, hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, runs and walks. He also won three Gold Gloves at first base.
Helton won the NL batting title with a .372 average in 2000, when he led the league with 59 doubles and 147 RBIs and also hit 42 home runs.
In 2007, he hit .320 with 17 homers and 91 RBIs. Colorado won 14 of its final 15 regular-season games and seven straight playoff games before Boston's sweep.
"Obviously, yeah, I wish we did win a World Series," Helton said. "But when I look at it, I think I was very blessed, fortunate to be in the World Series. I look at the lot of things we did accomplish and not the one we didn't."
I am sure come next February, probably even in December when it's usually time to start getting ready, it will be tough. I don't know how I am going to react. It will be weird. But I have other things in my life besides baseball.” -- Todd Helton
Earlier this month, Helton became the 96th player in major league history to reach the 2,500-hit milestone. According to the Rockies, he joins Hall of Famer Stan Musial as the only players in major league history with at least 2,500 hits, 550 doubles, 350 home runs and a .310 or higher career batting average.
"For 17 years number '17' has been the icon of Colorado Rockies baseball," Rockies owner Dick Monfort said in a statement. "Todd will be missed and our hope is he will be a part of our Colorado baseball family for many more years to come."
Helton has been bothered by back trouble in recent years, hitting a career-low .238 in 2012 and leading to speculation that this could be his final season in purple pinstripes.
"If I could play 81 games at home next year, I could do it. I could do it for a couple of more years," Helton told The Denver Post on Saturday. "And if they had the games scheduled for the same time so I could get a sleeping pattern, I would have a chance.
"I am sure come next February, probably even in December when it's usually time to start getting ready, it will be tough. I don't know how I am going to react. It will be weird. But I have other things in my life besides baseball."
In February, Helton found himself in the news when he was charged with driving under the influence and careless driving, but prosecutors dropped those charges under a plea deal. He was sentenced to a year of probation along with 24 hours of community service.
Helton struggled mightily early this season and is now hitting .244. But the three-time Gold Glove winner has remained highly dependable in the field. He has a career fielding percentage of .996, which is among the all-time best for a first baseman.
Helton had one of the biggest hits in team history, a walk-off homer against the Dodgers on Sept. 18, 2007, that ignited their Rocktober run to the World Series.
During a recent series in the Mile High City, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly noted Helton as exceptional in clutch situations.
"I hate seeing him up there late in the game, with the game on the line," Mattingly said. "I really don't want Todd up there. He's had a couple of 10- or 11-pitch at-bats where he ends up hitting a homer or a double or something.
"He's had an unbelievable career."
Helton was a first-round pick out of the University of Tennessee in 1995. In addition to playing baseball for the Volunteers, Helton also was the quarterback before eventually giving way to Peyton Manning, who won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Denver Broncos last season. Helton and Manning remain good friends.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.