It certainly was a rare sight, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton dressed in a Sky Sox uniform, kicked back in the home team’s dugout. He didn’t exactly feel out of place but it was strange for Helton, who made a rehabilitation start at first base Monday against the Memphis Redbirds. “Just throwing in a different color feels different,” Helton said. The 31-year-old slugger was placed on the disabled list after injuring his left calf muscle July 25 while running the bases against the New York Mets. He said the injured muscle feels better each day. The Rockies plan for Helton to rejoin the team later this week, most likely Thursday. Helton said he hopes to be ready to play Wednesday against Pittsburgh in Denver. “I’m not going to really know how it feels until I get out there and play baseball,” he said. “It’s tough. You want to be able to help the team. It’s what we’re paid to do. It’s what we love to do.” Helton helped the Sky Sox win 2-1 by going 2-for-2 with a single, double and an RBI. He said sprinting from the batter’s box and sliding to his right to field ground balls will be his biggest challenges. “I’m going to have to try and run in a game and see what happens,” he said. Helton has been a resilient player, missing consecutive starts for the Rockies only nine times in 1,095 games. “I was surprised that I couldn’t come back in four days,” Helton said. “I’ve always been able to come back.” So what is the difference? “Age for one,” he said. “And I’ve never pulled a calf. It’s a different kind of muscle.” Helton hasn’t played as a member of the Sky Sox since the 1997 season. In two seasons here, he played in 120 games, batted .352 and hit 18 home runs. Sky Sox manager Marv Foley said he intends to let Helton determine how much he plays. Rockies management has told him that if there are any problems with the calf, Helton comes out. “He knows himself better than any of us,” Foley said. “That is his call.” Helton said he’s trying to keep a low profile in the Sky Sox clubhouse. Foley feels fortunate to have him in the lineup. “I think it will be good for these guys to see a bona fide Hall of Fame candidate go to work,” Foley said. Helton will likely play in today’s game against Memphis.
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