DENVER -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy thinks Todd Helton's performance through the first 62 games of the season warrants a trip to Arizona next month.
"He's playing himself, in my opinion, into strong consideration to be a 2011 All-Star," Tracy said. "It's really easy for me to suggest that."
The numbers make it a fair suggestion, too.
Helton entered Friday's action ranking in the top 10 in the National League with a .318 average (sixth), a .394 on-base percentage (eighth) and a .534 slugging percentage (seventh).
Helton had reached base safely in nine of his last 10 plate appearances heading into Friday's game against the Dodgers, including a 4-for-4 performance in the Rockies' win, 5-3, over the Padres on Wednesday. His eight home runs matched his season total from 2010, when he hit a career-low .256, while battling through back and leg injuries.
"He's a completely different player from last year," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "It just goes to show, from year to year, sometimes you find it and sometimes you don't. He's been special to watch, and he's doing this year what he's been doing his whole career."
Helton's consistently high rate of production this season has caused a dilemma for Tracy, who said Friday that Helton has played more than expected this season.
Helton played in 118 games last season while nursing the injuries, but he has sat out just eight of the Rockies' 62 games this season.
"We are cautious about it," said Tracy, who added that he believes Helton should be a front-runner for the Comeback Player of the Year Award. "We are very protective of the fact that when we feel, and/or he feels, like he needs to step off to the side and just take a day to regroup physically, we're doing so."
Brothers nears more pressure-filled outings
DENVER -- In his first appearance at Coors Field on Thursday, Rockies left-handed reliever Rex Brothers recorded his first two Major League strikeouts in the sixth inning of Colorado's win, 9-7, over the Dodgers.
"It's definitely good to get those under your belt and get that walk-to-strikeout ratio better," Brothers said. Those punchouts came with the Rockies trailing by four runs, but manager Jim Tracy said Brothers may get a look in game-on-the-line situations before too long.
"Am I leaning and starting to head in that direction? Yes, I am," Tracy said.
Brothers, 23, whom Tracy calls "a fearless kid," has given up two hits and no runs in three appearances since being called up last Saturday for his Major League debut.
Still, the Rockies manager said he wants to continue to bring Brothers along with caution.
"I think there's a right way to bring young people along," Tracy said. "I don't think the right way to do it is to just grab a hold of them and shove them down the lion's mouth and say, 'Hey, I need you today.' "
Brothers, who struck out 45 in 28 innings during his time at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, said he has felt comfortable on the big league stage.
"It's a process," the Tennessee native said. "It's kind of like Spring Training, where it took me a couple games to get it locked in and get everything hitting on all cylinders. I'm feeling good, getting more and more comfortable."
Rogers nearly ready to return, but where?
DENVER -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Esmil Rogers threw well in a rehab start at Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday, but where he figures into the Rockies' plans is still uncertain.
Rogers, on the 15-day disabled list since May 7 with a right lat muscle strain, pitched five innings, giving up one run on six hits, while striking out eight and walking one, showing no ill effects of the injury.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy said on Friday that he would discuss Rogers' next move -- additional rehab starts or an appearance with the Rockies -- with head athletic trainer Keith Dugger.
If Rogers is ready for a big league outing, it will present what Tracy called "a wonderful problem to have." The Rockies made room in the rotation for right-hander Aaron Cook's return last week by moving lefty Clayton Mortensen to the bullpen.
Right-hander Juan Nicasio has pitched mostly well in three Major League starts since being called up from Double-A Tulsa and is in line to receive a fourth. Rogers, who is 3-1 with a 7.66 ERA in five appearances (four starts) this season, could potentially be moved to the bullpen or join the Triple-A rotation.
"We'll be in the sorting out process with that as we go forward," Tracy said.
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.