Ignoring rumors, Helms plays his game
Corner infielder will likely be left off Phillies' 25-man roster
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wes Helms punches in early for work each morning, dresses and prepares for another day in a Phillies uniform, as he's done every day this spring. If he happens upon a newspaper or computer, he won't check for potential trade rumors. He doesn't see the point."I just play," he said. "That's all I can do at this point. There's nothing to look at right now. There have been no rumors. I don't think anything is going on, so I'm here. That's the way I take it, until they call me in and say, 'This is what's going on.'" Something has been going on with Helms, who has been displaced by the free-agent acquisition of Pedro Feliz. With a five-man bench of Gregg Dobbs, Chris Coste, So Taguchi, Jayson Werth and Eric Bruntlett, the only way for Helms to find a spot with Philadelphia is in the unlikely event that the team opts for 11 pitchers. The Phillies have been trying to move the infielder, and speculation has revolved around at least two potential suitors. Helms has been linked to San Francisco and Los Angeles, with others to follow. The Giants would like to upgrade from veteran Rich Aurilia, but are reportedly not interested in Helms, although lefty Steve Kline, who may not make the Giants, has been mentioned as a trade possibility. The Dodgers lost third-base prospect Andy LaRoche for at two months, and Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent are nursing lingering injuries, meaning Helms could be a potential fit. For his part, Helms has batted .300 (9-for-30) in 14 Grapefruit League games, and is happy with his swing. Manager Charlie Manuel has worked him at first and third base, reminding teams of his versatility. When Helms arrived at Spring Training, he said that he was preparing for a season somewhere. The veteran is owed $2.9 million ($2.15 million and a $750,000 buyout) in the final year of a two-year deal signed before the 2007 season. He's coming off a season in which he batted .246 with five homers, a far cry from the .329 he hit with Florida in 2006. He would be happy as a backup on a contending team like the Phillies, if there's somehow room. "This is a great team, and we have a chance to do big things this year," Helms said. "The way I look at it is, if my role is going to be [to play] multiple positions, this is a good team to do it on. Of course, everybody wants to play, and if I could go somewhere and get more at-bats, I'd be up for that, too."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.