Helton has surgery on lower back

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Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton is expected to be ready for spring training after undergoing surgery on his lower back.

The operation was performed Tuesday by Dr. Robert Watkins at Marina Del Rey Hospital in Los Angeles.

The Rockies said Thursday that Helton has returned home to Denver to recuperate. The 35-year-old missed 62 games this season because of a strained lower back.

It was just the third trip to the disabled list in Helton's career and his first since 2006. In his first 10 full seasons in the major leagues, he played an average of 154 games, and he's never missed more than 18 games in any one season.

The five-time All Star is 43 hits shy of 2,000 for his career and 29 doubles away from 500.

The loss of Helton necessitated the move of Garrett Atkins over to first and Ian Stewart to third, a switch that ignited the team's offense.

Given Helton's balky back, his time as an every day player may be over.

Helton is a career .328 hitter and has driven in 1,116 RBIs in 1,661 games with the Rockies.