Wes Helms likely auditioning for next team

February 18, 2008 8:06:48 PM PST
Given the chance to be an everyday player, Wes Helms struggled so much his first season in Philadelphia that he probably won't stick around for another. Until the Phillies find a new home for their former starting third baseman, though, Helms says he won't sulk or demand a trade.

"I'm out there to do what I can do," Helms said Monday. "If it comes down to being on the team and being the backup or if it means going to another team, that's what I'll do."

Helms' future with the Phillies became uncertain after the team signed third baseman Pedro Feliz, who had 20 homers and 72 RBIs for the San Francisco Giants last year.

A solid defensive player, Feliz fits nicely in an already potent lineup. The Phillies pursued World Series MVP Mike Lowell early in the offseason, but he re-signed with Boston. So, they went after Feliz instead of sticking with a platoon of Helms and Greg Dobbs.

"They called me. They were real professional about it," Helms said. "They told me they were going to sign him and that it would affect my playing time, but they wanted me to be a part of the team unless something came down that they can move me."

Helms got a two-year, $5.45 million contract from the Phillies after he hit .329 in 240 at-bats with Florida in 2006. But he slumped early in Philly, lost his starting spot and finished with a .246 average, five homers and 39 RBIs in 112 games.

Helms had a long homerless drought to start the season, going 151 at-bats until he finally connected in the 66th game. The power outage took a toll on him.

"When I didn't hit the home run right away, I started to hear about it," Helms said. "I started trying to hit it and that messed up my whole season. I got long with my swing and I have to shorten it. I've always had a short, compact swing. I've got to get back to that."

If Helms finds his stroke, there's a good chance it will be with a new team. The Phillies have Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett as insurance behind Feliz, making Helms an expensive pinch-hitter.

NL MVP Jimmy Rollins is the only player still not in camp. He already had his physical and will be on the field for the first full-team workout Tuesday. ... Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt arrived in camp for his annual tour as special instructor.