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5 things to know about the Colorado Rockies

By: The Associated Press
February 13, 2014 Updated: February 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm
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photo - Colorado Rockies' Todd Helton, left, gets a pat on the back from Matt Belisle as he leaves the field after the Rockies defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 in a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Los Angeles. Helton was playing in the final game of his career. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Colorado Rockies' Todd Helton, left, gets a pat on the back from Matt Belisle as he leaves the field after the Rockies defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 in a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Los Angeles. Helton was playing in the final game of his career. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) 

DENVER - Five things to know about the Rockies as they start their first spring training camp in two decades without Todd Helton:

ICONIC FIGURE

Helton received a horse as a retirement gift last season and rode off into the sunset. Well, to his farm just north of Denver, anyway. Helton was the face of the franchise, the voice everyone listened to in the locker room. Helton spent 17 seasons in the Mile High City, saving untold errors by digging out errant throws. He was one of the best in the business with the glove. He was talented at the plate, too, leaving as the team's all-time leader in virtually every offensive category. Justin Morneau was brought in to take over at first base for Helton. And while Morneau's bat figures to be an upgrade - Helton struggled at the plate the last few seasons - Morneau knows he can't be like Helton, because he was "irreplaceable," Morneau said. "I'm going to try and do the things I do well and not really try to replace anyone or be anyone else. Just help this team win ballgames."

ACTIVE OFFSEASON

The Rockies were busy on the trade front over the winter, pulling off one deal after another. Not only did they acquire left-hander Brett Anderson from Oakland, but they picked up outfielder Drew Stubbs from Cleveland, lefty Franklin Morales in a deal with Boston and sent outfielder Dexter Fowler to Houston for righty Jordan Lyles. Anderson could figure heavily into the plans this season as he's set to join a strong rotation that already includes Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin and Tyler Chatwood.

BOLSTERING THE BULLPEN

The Rockies' bullpen was erratic in 2013, posing an NL-worst 4.23 ERA. But they addressed the need for quality relievers, bringing in lefty Boone Logan and 41-year-old righty LaTroy Hawkins, who will compete with Rex Brothers for the closer's role. Logan was 5-2 with a 3.23 last season for the New York Yankees.

VALUABLE CARGO

Slugger Carlos Gonzalez just wasn't the same in the second half of the season after a right finger injury. Still, the smooth-fielding outfielder finished with 26 homers with 70 RBIs in 110 games. Gonzalez underwent an emergency appendectomy in January, but showed his exuberance for a return to the field by posting on his Twitter account, "Who's ready for Baseball? Can't wait!" Gonzalez will move from left field over to center with Fowler now in Houston.

TULO'S TIME?

Once again, All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki had an injury-plagued season. He missed a month due to a broken rib. The year before, he sat out a majority of the year with a groin injury that required surgery to remove scar tissue.

This is Tulowitzki's team with Helton's departure, and the Rockies desperately need him to stay injury-free for an entire season. Tulowitzki is one of the more feared hitters in the league.

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