Notes: Helms dealing with new role
Third baseman could be odd man out, candidate for trade
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Phillies third baseman Wes Helms still has a locker at Bright House Networks Field. In it hangs the usual array of batting practice and game jerseys, home and road uniforms, shoes and other red-colored personal artifacts.How much of it will Helms actually use? Good question. The veteran enters his second Spring Training with Philadelphia as a player in flux, and he will most likely be dealt before the regular season. Pedro Feliz, who lockers nearby, is the reason why after the free agent signed a contract with the Phillies on Jan. 31. Until that point, Helms -- then spending the offseason working out near his Alabama home -- had been preparing to share third base with Greg Dobbs. "It definitely puts a damper into playing time and all," Helms said of the Feliz signing, "but I don't look at it [just] that way. I'm out here to do what I can do, and if it comes down to being on this team and being a backup, so be it. If it means going to another team, that's what I'm playing for." With Feliz expected to start at third, Dobbs has shifted to a utility role as the prime left-handed pinch-hitter. So Taguchi, Eric Bruntlett, Jayson Werth and Chris Coste complete the bench, which only leaves room for Helms if the Phillies carry 11 pitchers. In that scenario, Helms would compete with Chris Snelling for the final roster spot. Helms, who is scheduled to earn $2.15 million this season, appears to be the odd man out. He said the Phillies told him of their intent to sign Feliz, sparing him from hearing about it secondhand. The team will look to find a new home for Helms, who batted .246 with five homers in 280 at-bats last season. "This Spring Training, the way I'm looking at it, I'm playing for Wes Helms," he said. "I'm either playing for the Phillies or for other teams to say, 'Hey, we need him to come play for us.' It doesn't take away from me as a team player because I have to think about my career here, too, to better things for myself." Helms earns points for a realistic attitude, though it's no secret that his career might be helped if he were to receive consistent at-bats elsewhere. "Right now, I'm a Phillie and I'm going to go out and play my heart out for this team. They've handled it the right way and I'm going handle it the right way. In this game, you're loyal to the team you're on, but when it comes to your career you want to play. If they have a deal that would benefit me and them, I would definitely go. If I could go somewhere and get 100 more at-bats than I would get here it would definitely be to my benefit to go." Helms insisted that he maintained the same attitude before and after Feliz's arrival. Helms spent the winter relaxing in Birmingham with his wife and two children. His youngest son, Wes Jr., started school this fall. His family helps him forget about his work worries. "Like I tell my dad all the time, I could go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and have fans throw batteries at me, [but] when I see my kids and family later, none of that matters," he said.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.