After trade talks fail, Helton says he wants to move on |

After trade talks fail, Helton says he wants to move on

DENVER Todd Helton says he has put the trade talk behind him and is focused on the upcoming season, when he hopes to help the Colorado Rockies turn around their fortunes and end their seven-year stretch without a winning record.The Rockies broke off talks with Boston earlier this week when the Red Sox balked at including a potential impact prospect in a deal for Helton, whose career .333 batting average is tops among active players.The breakdown in talks was met with relief in Colorado, where Helton is the face of the franchise despite two straight seasons marred by injuries and illness.Helton said his focus now is on helping the Rockies win again. They’ve had just one winning season – 82-80 in 2000 – during his decade in Denver and have never been a serious playoff contender.”It’s something we need to change, and right now that’s my focus,” Helton told The Rocky Mountain News in Wednesday’s editions. “I’m not thinking about (the potential trade). That’s not something I had control of. That’s no distraction. The only thing on my mind is playing first base and winning.”Helton has $90.1 million remaining on his contract, which runs through 2011 and calls for him to make $16.6 million this season, about one third of the team’s projected payroll of $55 million.The Rockies were willing to pay part of his salary in return for the right mix of players. But the Red Sox refused to budge from their offer of third baseman Mike Lowell and reliever Julian Tavarez, two players whose contracts are set to expire after next season.Colorado general manager Dan O’Dowd had a list of a half-dozen prospects, including relievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, that he wanted included in the deal.Helton had a complete no-trade clause in the $141.5 million, nine-year contract extension he signed in 2001, but he was willing to waive it for a chance to play for the Red Sox, who first talked with the Rockies in November about a possible swap for Manny Ramirez but later pulled his name off the table.Helton has said he’d prefer to play his entire career in Colorado, where he has a ranch and lives year-round.”I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I gave them a chance to get out of it if they wanted, and it didn’t happen. So it’s time to go about business.”Helton is coming off the two least productive years of his career. In 2005, he played with a bad back and landed on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a strained calf. Last year, he was slowed by an intestinal infection that landed him in the hospital and sapped his weight, strength and stamina all season.Helton said he’s in tiptop shape thanks to a revised offseason conditioning program and is eager to reaffirm his status as one of the league’s elite hitters – while in a Rockies uniform.”I plan to die here,” he said. “I like it here that much.”Helton said he believes he can reach the postseason with the Rockies, who have developed a bevy of young hitters who are starting to make it to the big leagues.”I know my baseball life is going to close most likely within the next eight years,” Helton said. “And the thing I want to experience more than anything is to win, and I’d prefer to experience that with the Rockies. I will do everything I can to bring the championship here.”

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