Rockies’ Todd Helton soaking up Hall of Fame journey

Todd Helton is a bat guy. Always has been.

So it’s little wonder that the Rockies’ newly elected Hall of Famer would be wowed by the collection of historic bats stored in the vaults at Cooperstown, N.Y.

“It was amazing,” Helton said Saturday during a media session at Rockies Fanfest at Coors Field.

Helton was elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday in his sixth year on the ballot, then he was whisked off to Cooperstown for two days before going to Secaucus, N.J., on Friday for an interview on MLB Network.

“Everything happens pretty quick … but I welcomed it and it’s been exciting,” Helton said. “I’ve tried to take it slow and take it all in and just have some good memories.”

One of his best memories was getting to take an exclusive tour of the archives at the museum in Cooperstown.

“I got to see George Brett’s bat — the pine tar bat,” Helton said. “I got to pick up Babe Ruth’s bat. I’m a bat guy so I like picking up a bat to see what it feels like. There were a bunch of them I got to see.”

When a reporter referred to Babe Ruth’s bat as “magical,” Helton quipped: “Babe Ruth’s bat did not feel magical. It felt really heavy and really long. I don’t know how you swing a bat that big.”

For the record, Ruth’s bat at the Hall of Fame is from the 1927 season when he mashed 60 home runs. The Babe’s bat measures 35 3/4 inches and weighs approximately 38 ounces. There are 28 notches around the Louisville Slugger brand above the bat’s handle. Ruth began carving small notches on his bats for each home run in the second half of the ’27 season.

Add Helton. Helton received hundreds of texts and phone calls after his election to the Hall of Fame, including calls from Derek Jeter, George Brett and Paul Molitor.

Rotation in motion. Colorado’s biggest offseason move, outside of re-signing veteran outfielder/DH Charlie Blackmon to a one-year, $13 million contract, was making a trade for Cleveland right-handed starter Cal Quantrill in November.

The Rockies also signed free-agent right-hander Dakota Hudson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with $1.5 million more available via performance bonuses based on innings pitched.

“We are bringing in (Hudson) to compete for a job in the starting rotation,” general manager Bill Schmidt said.

In Quantrill, the Rockies hope they’re getting the same pitcher who shined in 2022 when he went 15-5 with a 3.38 ERA over 186 1/3 innings (32 starts) and helped the Guardians win the American League Central title. But Quantrill, 28, saw his ERA balloon to 5.24 with the Guardians this past season as he dealt with lingering shoulder issues and was designated for assignment.

The Rockies need depth in their starting rotation because right-handers German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela are going to miss the bulk of the 2024 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

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“With Marquez, we are probably looking for (his return) after the All-Star break,” Schmidt said. “Senzatela might pitch in Triple A at the end of September. I don’t anticipate him up here, but he could be pitching in the system at some point.”

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