DENVER -- Todd Helton has purposely avoided the "farewell tours" other players of his stature have conducted during their final season, but he has unofficially maintained he is "99 percent" certain he will retire when his contract is up at the end of the season.
For Dusty Baker, who has managed against Helton for three teams over 17 years, it's the end of an era as one of the National League's most prolific hitters hangs up his spikes. Helton enters what could be his final game against Baker with a career .317 average, and he is one hit shy of 2,500. When he hits that milestone, he'll join Stan Musial as the only players in the history of the game with at least 2,500 hits, 550 doubles (583, 17th all-time), 350 homers, and a .310 average.
"My memory is he's very steady," Baker said, looking back at Helton's career from the visiting dugout. "One of the best first basemen around, quietly goes about his business, very little fanfare, no boasting, no hot-dogging, nothing. He just goes about his business.
"Probably people don't give him much credit, because he's played in Coors Field, but this guy can hit anywhere. This guy's shooting balls in the gap, he'll take you to left, and sometimes he'll take you to right. He just knows what he's doing."
Baker has vivid images of Helton's prowess at first base over the years, as he is a three time NL Gold Glove Award winner.
"I don't ever remember him not picking a ground ball on a throw," Baker said. "When the ball's thrown, everybody says, 'Boot it,' or something like that. [With Helton at first], I don't even say it anymore."
Helton took the Reds pitching staff to task in Friday's series opener, clouting two three-run homers to match a career-high 6 RBIs in a game, a feat he last accomplished 10 years earlier.
"I remember when he first came on the scene, everybody was talking about this young kid that could hit, but we all doubted at the time that he was taking Andres Galarraga's spot," Baker recalled. "Twenty years later he's still there."
Reds expand roster with three September callups
DENVER -- The Reds recalled reinforcements from Triple-A Louisville on Sunday, expanding their roster as the calendar turned to September.
Outfielder Derrick Robinson, right-handed relief pitcher Curtis Partch and second baseman Henry Rodriguez are each making their second stint on the big league roster this season. Robinson played for a little over four months after Ryan Ludwick's Opening Day injury, Partch played for nearly two months from June 9 to Aug. 2, and Rodriguez made two pinch-hit appearances when he was with the club from June 7-10.
"I know what to expect and how everything works," Partch said. "Considering how close it is for the division, I'm sure they're going to use all their main guys in the regular situations that they do, and if there's a way we can help out and save those guys' arms and pick up some innings so they stay fresh, I'm pretty sure that's what they want to do."
Partch posted a 3.71 ERA in 10 relief appearances, offering a steady arm from the 'pen that Baker should be able to use in the stretch run.
"Besides the last outing where I just didn't have any command, I felt like I was getting better," Partch said. "At least helping the team whichever way I could. That's all I pretty much wanted to do."
Robinson was an integral part of the outfield mix with Ludwick out for four months, hitting .254 with seven RBIs in 84 games, including 28 starts in left and seven starts in center. He got his first big league hit, a single, off Steven Strasburg on April 7.
"It was good to get my feet wet and actually be able to help the team while doing that," Robinson said of the learning curve during his first Major League stint. "I always told myself when I was coming up that I believe in myself that I was a big league player. So when I got here I was just mostly trying to prove to myself that 'Yeah, you do belong here,' and show others that I belong here and do what I can to help the team."
Partch and Robinson both debuted in the Majors this season, while Rodriguez played in 12 games for the Reds last September, hitting .214 in 12 games and making one start.
Phillips comes up just short of rare Reds cycle
DENVER -- After his first three at-bats Friday night, Brandon Phillips was a single shy of the sixth cycle in franchise history and first since Eric Davis accomplished the feat in 1989. Davis had been the first Reds player to hit for the cycle since Frank Robinson did it in '59.
"If I would have [done] it, I would have called Eric Davis and I would have said, 'Hey, man, I finally did two things that you did. 30-30 and hit for the cycle,'" Phillips said, taking pride in sharing records with the former Reds great. "It would have been nice to do it, but it is what it is. It just feels good to go out there and produce for the team. That's what it's all about."
Phillips tripled in the first, homered in the third and doubled in the fifth, getting two more cracks to complete the cycle.
"I was pulling for him," manager Dusty Baker said. "I never hit for the cycle. The hard one to hit is a triple, and he hit that right away. I said, 'This dude's got a chance for the cycle.'"
Phillips did tie and surpass his career high for RBIs with his 98th and 99th RBIs in his first two at-bats, and if he hits 100 RBIs, he'll be the first Reds second baseman to hit the milestone since Joe Morgan hit 111 in 1976. If Phillips does it without increasing his 17 home runs to 20 by the end of the season, he'll be the first Reds player since '59 to drive in 100 runs with fewer than 20 home runs. Gus Bell plated 115 that year with 19 home runs.
"[Driving in runs without home runs] is even more valuable, because if you're driving in runs by hitting home runs, you're driving yourself in," Baker said. "So if you take away the amount of home runs from your RBIs and then take probably half of those where somebody's on base, then you get a true number of home many RBIs you drive in."
Baker's logic takes Phillips' 99 RBIs, subtracts 17 home runs and another 10 for roughly the number of men on base for Phillips home runs, leaving 73 "true" RBIs.
"You got to be a clutch," Baker said. You got to have somebody on in front of you, which helps."
Phillips did most of his damage from the cleanup spot, but now he's back in the two-hole, where he opened the season.
"I told Brandon before, he was in a position to drive in runs, " Baker said. "But now he's in a position to get on base. His on-base percentage since he's been batting second is something like .600. The role changes depending on where you bat in the order. "
Prior to Sunday's game, Phillips' OBP when batting second was .533.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.