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Pair traded grid clipboards for Rockies

Citizen Staff Writer



Replacing the Manning brothers was something a pair of Colorado Rockies tried to do in college football.

They weren’t successful, but that has not stopped Todd Helton and Seth Smith from becoming starters at the major league level.

First baseman Helton, 35, was in the shadows of Peyton Manning while a backup quarterback at Tennessee.

Manning is closing in on many of the top NFL records with the Indianapolis Colts.

Helton’s done pretty well for himself, too, becoming one of the best hitters in the game during a 12-year career with the Rockies.

Colorado outfielder Smith was also stuck behind a Manning.

The Rockies’ second-round draft pick in 2004 was a three-year backup to Eli Manning while at the University of Mississippi.

He never took a snap.

Eli Manning established himself with the 2008 Super Bowl title with the New York Giants.

“We’ve talked about our football days when we first got together, but not that much any more,” Smith said of his relationship with Helton. “We’re obviously trying to do what we can out here.”

Neither has shown regrets for being clipboard holders in college football.

Helton, a .328 career hitter, has distinguished himself as one of the best players in the big leagues.

Smith, 26, is getting his chance this spring. All eyes are on a player with just 74 regular season games under his belt.

Instead of having to replace a Manning, he is hoping to succeed all-star Matt Holliday, who was traded to Oakland during the offseason.

No pressure there.

“We are going to give him the opportunity to run out there and see where he can take it,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.

Smith has mostly been used as a pinch-hitter. He excelled at that role in 2007, going 5 for 8 in the regular season and 3 for 6 in the postseason as the Rockies made a run to the World Series.

Smith hit .259 with four homers and drove in 15 runs in 67 games a year ago. “I’m not trying to put any extra pressure on myself,” Smith said. “I have not played too much so it will be interesting to see what happens. I know the opportunity that I have.”


Wednesday: Opener, D’backs at Rockies, 1:05 p.m., Hi Corbett Field

Thursday: White Sox at Rockies, 1:05 p.m., Hi Corbett; D’backs at Indians, 1:05 p.m., Goodyear

> MLB notes, 2C

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