Veterans Clark, Helton enjoying ride
Young D-backs, Rockies look to elder statesmen
PHOENIX -- The dozen Arizona Diamondbacks who haven't seen their 26th birthday yet are busy in the Chase Field clubhouse on the eve of what will be their first National League Championship Series.They are in many ways what you'd expect from a typical bunch of talented twentysomethings, excited to be here and looking forward to trying to make it to the World Series. This collection of first-round Draft picks and highly touted youngsters are the key reason the Diamondbacks are here, just as Colorado's kids are a big reason the Rockies find themselves in their first NLCS. The youth movement in Arizona and Colorado clearly came of age in 2007, and two players who couldn't be happier about it are a couple of veteran first basemen and former first-round Draft picks, Arizona's Tony Clark and Colorado's Todd Helton. Clark, 35, came to the Diamondbacks three years ago after spending the 2004 season with the New York Yankees. He is one of just four Diamondbacks on the active roster with postseason experience. And he's watched this team grow during the last three years and blossom this season. "You're simply hopeful that it's sooner rather than later; conventional wisdom would suggest that it would be later," Clark said. "But we were hopeful that with the commitment that we were making to each other and the organization was making to them that we could find a way to simply shorten the window and hope that it was sooner rather than later and give us an opportunity to move forward." The younger Diamondbacks credit Clark with helping the process along. "[He's meant] so much, not just on the field," said Arizona center fielder Chris Young, 24. "Obviously, he's produced great things for us with his bat this year in clutch situations and with his amazing defense. But off the field, he's our mentor, he's the leader in the clubhouse by far, he's the guy you go to if you have any kind of problems on the field or off the field." Clark, whose on-the-field contributions included a .249 batting average with 17 homers and 51 RBIs in just 221 at-bats this season, has been there when the young players needed his counsel. "I am always more concerned with the person that I am rather than the player," Clark said. "Your baseball career is unbelievably short. Trying to make a difference in a young person's life with respect to being a husband, being a father, being a man is more what I'm concerned about than whether or not he can hit a slider. "I'd like to think that I offer something there, seeing as I am married with three kids and have kind of been there and done that and most of these guys are 24 or 25 and haven't done those things yet, so to offer some perspective, I'm hoping that for him to say that, it shows his ears are open, and I'm thankful for that opportunity."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.