Notes: Helling weathers slow recovery

Notes: Helling weathers slow recovery

CHICAGO -- April brought nothing but frustration for Rick Helling, but at least he avoided a rain delay.

Helling is sidelined with an elbow injury and did not travel with the Brewers to Wrigley Field this weekend, where players crammed into the clubhouse during a rain delay Sunday. He has not even played catch for more than two weeks, the first time in his career the right-hander has been held back from throwing a baseball this long.

"It's going way slower than I thought it would, but I said from the beginning that I was going to do whatever [trainers] wanted me to do," Helling said last week. "The big reason they're doing this is to completely get rid of it. They want to make sure there's no aggravation at all. ... I have to trust them because they've done this before and I haven't."

Helling pitched in two games before the recurrence of the elbow injury he first felt in Spring Training. He has been on the DL since April 16 with a sprained elbow ligament, and the team's athletic training staff is being extra cautious because that injury can lead to a more serious tear of the ligament and Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.

Helling hopes to begin simulating throwing early next week with a weighted ball. Manager Ned Yost said Helling is "getting better" but there are no imminent plans to get him throwing again.

"I think I could pitch with it. I can deal with the pain," Helling said. "But they want to get rid of it because it could lead to something more serious. I understand that."

How die-hard is Helling about staying with his throwing routine?

In 2004, he suffered a broken leg when he was struck by a line drive while pitching for a Twins Minor League affiliate. But he hobbled out onto the field in a bulky cast and continued to play catch while the bone in his lower leg healed.

Then, last year, Helling was impaled by a shard from a shattered bat in a start for Triple-A Nashville. Doctors pulled the wood out of his left forearm, stitched him up and Helling made his next start right on schedule.

So it's easy to understand why his current ailment is driving him crazy.

"It's just no fun not contributing," Helling said. "I can't imagine being one of those guys with a lot of [disabled list] time. You just feel like you're a leper."

Prince of April: Regardless of the outcome Sunday, Prince Fielder had a fabulous first month of his first full season.

A two-homer, three-RBI effort Saturday gave Fielder five home runs and 16 RBIs, second on the team in both categories to All-Star left fielder Carlos Lee. Fielder was batting a team-best .348, including .321 (9-for-28) with runners in scoring position, and was hitting left-handers at a .429 clip with four of his home runs.

"Some guys think that they're going on a hot streak instead of thinking that they're good," Yost said. "Every time they go on a hot streak they're wondering when it's going to end. These guys [like Fielder] know it ain't going to end. They know they're good."

Yost was not surprised by Fielder's quick start at the plate, but he said the 21-year-old had impressed by playing better-than-expected defense.

"He's not out there killing time until he hits," Yost said. "He wants to be a complete player."

Stay with it: Yost's son, Ned IV, is scuffling this season at Class A West Virginia. The Brewers signed the younger Yost as a non-drafted free agent last season, and dad says his son is not panicking over his early-season struggles.

"He's nothing like his old man," the elder Yost said. "He's real even-keeled. It took me a long time to learn how to be even-keeled."

Last call: The Brewers' six home runs on Saturday matched the franchise record for a day game. The Brewers also clubbed six homers on April 14, 1979 against the Orioles at County Stadium. ... Entering the series finale at Wrigley, the Brewers were 4-0 on Saturdays and 0-3 on Sundays. They were averaging 10 runs per game on Saturday and one on Sundays, and had twice been shut out in Sunday losses. ... Yost is encouraged by left-hander Dana Eveland's fast start at Triple-A Nashville. Including seven shutout innings in a win on Saturday, Eveland is 2-0 this season with a 0.75 ERA and 24 strikeouts versus three walks. Eveland, who pitched out of the Brewers' bullpen last season after a promotion all the way from Double-A, was unable to win a rotation spot in Spring Training.

On deck: The Brewers return home for a pair of two-game series leading to their annual West Coast road trip. First up this week are the Houston Astros, who will send red-hot left-hander Wandy Rodriguez (4-0, 2.53 ERA) to the mound in Monday's series opener against Brewers righty Tomo Ohka (2-1, 3.72 ERA). Ohka pitched seven strong innings in his last start, but has been stuck in a good-start, bad-start routine this season.

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.