The Phillies said they signed
in the off-season because they wanted more offense out of their third baseman.
No one seemed certain about his defense.
"That's expected," Helms said before last night's game against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. "When I haven't played a lot of third over the past few years, it's definitely going to be a question. The only thing I can do for myself is just work on it every day to get comfortable.
"From day one of spring training until now, it's definitely been nothing but uphill for me. I'm going to make my share of mistakes, and I know that. But I'm going to work on my mistakes so I don't repeat them."
Helms, who entered the night hitting .308 with nine RBIs, had two throwing errors early in the season, but he had been errorless until he made one in the ninth inning of Tuesday's victory over the Nationals. But even the untrained eye can tell Helms has been making stronger throws to first base.
Last season with the Florida Marlins, Helms played 88 games at first base and 24 at third.
"The biggest thing for me is just getting my accuracy back," Helms said. "In spring training, the ball wanted to go down because it's a longer throw. The arm strength is there. It's just getting my feet back under me and getting the accuracy point back. It feels good over there."
Third-base coach Steve Smith, who is the team's infield instructor, said he thinks Helms' defensive capabilities have been underestimated.
"I had Hank Blalock" when Smith was with the Texas Rangers, the coach said. "Hank is very accurate, but he doesn't play deep. Wes plays deep, and he's going to get more balls because he's deep."
entered the night with a 0.77 ERA in 10 appearances. Opponents had hit just .175 against him.
"I've seen a better fastball and better command," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He definitely keeps his cool. He can close a game if we needed him. He can do that."
Rowand stays hot
extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a one-out single in the second inning last night. It matches his career high. He had a 13-game hitting streak with the Chicago White Sox from May 25 to June 8, 2005.
- Todd Zolecki