Todd Helton’s 16th straight opening day start for the Colorado
Rockies could be his last.
The five-time All-Star first baseman turns 40 in August and is
entering the final season of his contract.
”I do realize it’s coming to an end and enjoy everything a bit
more,” he said ahead of Monday’s game at Milwaukee. ”Sit back and
just be in the moment a little bit more.”
Helton hit .238 in 69 games last year, both career lows.
”Everything surrounding opening day, they’re all special,”
said Helton, whose season ended in August because of a hip injury
that required surgery. ”It’s just a great time of year knowing
you’re going to be playing baseball again, baseball’s here.”
Walt Weiss replaced Jim Tracy in Colorado’s dugout, and the 1988
AL Rookie of the Year is making the rare leap from high school
coach to major league manager. Prior to this job, Weiss’ only head
coaching job was at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo.,
where he led his son’s team to a 20-6 record and a spot in the
state semifinals last spring.
Weiss took over a team that finished a franchise-worst 64-98 and
last in the NL West, 30 games behind the division and World Series
champion San Francisco Giants.
”There is no question the pink elephant in the room is I
haven’t done this before,” Weiss said when he was hired. ”This is
a job that I’m going to have to figure out on the fly.”
Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin takes the mound for his first opening
day start and perhaps will end the Rockies’ streak of 102 games
since June 12 without a starter reaching 100 pitches. That’s easily
the longest in the majors since such records started in 1988,
according to STATS.
”Chacin is a guy who can pitch,” Weiss said. ”He’s got a
great changeup, a good slider. He’s had very good success at the
major league level. He’s just got to command his stuff. When he
does, he can go through big league lineups.”
Yovani Gallardo makes his fourth opening day start for the
Brewers, who begin the season against Colorado for the second time
in four years. The Rockies won their 2010 opener at Miller
”Gallardo’s our No. 1 guy,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said.
”He’s our opening day guy for a reason. He sets the tone for the
rest of the pitching staff to follow.”
Milwaukee’s rotation got a boost last week when Kyle Lohse
agreed to a $33 million, three-year contract. Lohse was 16-3 with a
2.86 ERA for St. Louis last season, pitching a career-high 211
”Yo has the experience and he has the mindset to be a leader on
the pitching staff,” Lucroy said. ”With Kyle Lohse here now, they
can mentor a lot of the other guys.”
Gallardo is 0-2 in opening day starts.
”Yo’s becoming a vocal leader,” Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke
said. ”Guys are going to look to him to see what kind of workload
they need to do. They are going to look at him to see how he gets
along when he struggles a little bit. So, there’s a lot of examples
that Yo’s going to show these young guys on how to go about
After reaching the 2011 NL championship series in Roenicke’s
first season, Milwaukee was third in the NL Central last year at
83-79, 14 games behind the division champion Cincinnati Reds. The
Brewers have eight players who are on an opening day big roster for
the first time, including pitchers Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers, Jim
Henderson and Alfredo Figaro.
”We’ve got a great group of young guys,” Peralta said. ”We
don’t have too much experience, but I think we’ve got great
Alex Gonzalez, back from season-ending knee surgery, makes his
first big league appearance at first base after Mat Gamel blew out
his surgically repaired knee early in spring training. Regular
first baseman Corey Hart is due back in May from knee surgery.
Ryan Braun, the Brewers’ top slugger, again faces questions
about performance-enhancing drugs. Before spring training last
season, the 2011 NL MVP won his appeal of a positive drug test
during the 2011 postseason, succeeding with his argument about a
chain-of-custody that didn’t adhere to the procedures in force at
This year. MLB is investigating the appearance of the left
fielder’s name on documents purportedly from a closed anti-aging
clinic in Florida that was accused in media accounts of
distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. Braun issued a
statement saying he had used the clinic’s operator, Anthony Bosch,
as a consultant during his appeal of his 2011 positive test.
Rookie outfielder Khris Davis made the Brewers after batting
.262 in spring training with six homers and a team-high 16
AP Sports Writer Lynn DeBruin in Salt Lake City contributed to