The question was blunt. "Can you still hit .300?" So was the answer. "I plan on it," Rockies veteran first baseman Todd Helton said, his eyes flashing at the challenge. Self-confidence convinced Helton — a career .320 hitter with 2,420 hits — to return for a 17th big-league season, which almost certainly will be his last. But it comes with no guarantee of a fairy tale ending, injuries and age having reduced his effectiveness in recent seasons. Coming off hip surgery, Helton said he's healthy enough to contribute, but still the question must be asked: At age 39, does he still have the bat speed, sharp eyes and keen reflexes to be a productive starting first baseman? Or should expectations be greatly reduced? "My bat speed's still there. It's just not there every day," Helton conceded. "If I'm sore, I don't have youth on my side to be able to get loose. It's still there. It's just not consistently there as much." Manager Walt Weiss is convinced Helton still has plenty to give. "Todd's the kind of guy who could hit a double to the gap when he's 52," Weiss said. "Just watching him taking his batting practice, I don't have any concerns." Read more: Rockies' Todd Helton: What does he have left for likely final season? - The Denver Post Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: Follow us: @Denverpost on Twitter | Denverpost on Facebook