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Rockies place 1B Helton on disabled list

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies still don't know for sure
what's ailing slugger Todd Helton. They just know they're going to
be without him for a while.

The Rockies placed their star first baseman on the 15-day
disabled list Saturday because of a stomach ailment. The move was
made retroactive to April 20. The five-time All-Star was
hospitalized with stomach discomfort and a fever on Friday and will
remain there until testing and diagnosis are complete, the team
said.

"With respect to the privacy of himself and his family, I'm not
going to make any comment on his condition, other than the fact we
believe it's in his best interest to put him on the disabled
list,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. "The doctors acquired all the
information they needed.''

Helton, a 10-year major league veteran, has been on the disabled
list only once before, from July 26 to Aug. 10 last year with a
left calf strain.

Losing their leader took the air out of a Rockies clubhouse that
is dominated by youngsters.

"It's devastating,'' shortstop Clint Barmes said. "He's the
captain, the team leader. I don't know the situation, but I hope he
gets back as soon as possible. The only compensation is we've got
guys that can take his place. Eli [Marrero] and Jason [Smith] can
play the position.''

Marrero started his second consecutive game at first base
Saturday night against San Francisco.

"Time for some of us to give some more,'' Marrero said. "This
isn't good because of what Todd gives to us. You can't replace a
Todd Helton, but we have to try.''

The Rockies aren't sure if Helton's illness is related to a
nasty stomach flu that has made its way through the clubhouse. Its
latest victim was third baseman Garrett Atkins, who stayed away
from the ballpark Saturday night and was replaced in the lineup by
Smith.

"We've got to pick up the slack,'' Smith said. "I've played a
few games at first base last year. Eli and I are going to have to
make the plays and provide some offense with Todd out.''

To replace Helton on the 25-man roster, the club purchased the
contract of outfielder Ryan Spilborghs from Triple-A Colorado
Springs. The Rockies designated right-hander Eduardo Sierra for
assignment to make room for Spilborghs on the 40-man roster.

Spilborghs was batting .328 with five RBI in 16 games for the
Sky Sox this season.

"He had a very good spring for us. We put him in all three
outfield positions. We hit him up and down the lineup,'' Hurdle
said. "He has been told he is an overachiever. We get to a point
where you'll just be called an achiever.''

This is Spilborghs' second stint with the Rockies. He made his
major league debut last year by appearing in one game after tying
the Rockies' farm system record with 46 doubles when he split the
season between Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs.

"He showed us what we needed to see to have confidence in his
ability to put him in the game at any time, at any place in the
outfield or as part of the lineup,'' Hurdle said.

Sierra has a 5.14 ERA in six relief appearances for Colorado
Springs. The Rockies have 10 days to trade, release or send him
outright to the minors.