Four years later, the greatest season in franchise history continues to pay dividends. When the Rockies were marching toward the World Series in 2007, Carney Lansford arrived from Triple-A and threw batting practice every day to Todd Helton.

Those basic calisthenics, nothing but ordinary at the time, helped spawn a critical adjustment this spring.

"I knew what his good swing looked like. What I remembered from that swing and what I saw of his swing last year shocked me," said Lansford, who is in his first year as the Rockies' hitting instructor. "When he arrived (in Scottsdale, Ariz.), we had to get to work right away."

Helton, 37, knew something was wrong. He has put up numbers worthy of Hall of Fame debate, but last year he struggled to hit his weight. Poor health was the primary reason. His back hurt, and he had no leg strength for much of the final three months. In the process of trying to compensate, he developed bad habits.

His goal was simple in hitting sessions at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick: regaining trust in his hands again and staying more upright in his stance.

"The fact that he was receptive to it was huge," Lansford said. "He's never struggled like last year. It's humbling. But we had to get him away from trying to hit the ball 10,000 miles to going foul line to foul line."

Helton is back to being Helton. As the Pirates wander into Coors Field tonight, the Rockies need a victory to match their best start ever after 24 games (17-7). Helton is in the middle of everything, batting .317 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. He didn't hit his third home run last season until Aug. 7.

"It's not a record or anything, so let's not get too giddy," Helton said. "It's nice to hit some balls hard that you know are going out. I had a good plan going into spring training, and it's helped."