Friedrich Leaves Major Impression On Rockies
DENVER—Lefthander Christian Friedrich ended spring training with a memorable outing. Starting for Double-A Tulsa against the visiting Rockies, Friedrich walked the first two batters he faced, quickly regrouped and pitched six hitless innings with seven strikeouts and no more walks.
"He threw that night as good as I've seen him pitch in a Rockie uniform," assistant general manager Bill Geivett said, "even though it was a Driller uniform, I guess."
That's the uniform Friedrich, 23, wore last season when he went 3-6, 5.05 and was limited to 18 starts. He was sidelined with left elbow inflammation and a left elbow contusion before a left oblique strain ended his season on Aug. 18.
Rather than return to the Chicago area for the offseason, Friedrich went to Phoenix to prepare for the 2011 season. That change of scenery and routine seems to have helped Friedrich, the Rockies first-round pick out of Eastern Kentucky in 2008 and the 25th player taken overall.
"To me, he's very close," Geivett said. "I think he's put everything in order. He still has to perform and rack up some things at the minor league level. But I really feel a lefthander with his kind of stuff, finally everything's kind of put in order where he can perform."
After the first two hitters, Friedrich's fastball command, which was an issue last year, was very good, and he attacked the hitters in a lineup of mostly Rockies regulars.
"His delivery looked good," Geivett said. "It's not like he's working on that. Everything looked intact and he's healthy and I think we're looking for a big year.
"And I'm not going to put it past him arriving at the big league level this year. He's certainly in position."
• Jeremiah Sammy, 23, and Jason Van Kooten, 26, are continuing position switches in extended spring training. After two seasons at short-season Tri-City as a middle infielder, Sammy is converting to a pitcher. Van Kooten is moving from second base, where he had throwing issues, to the outfield. He hit .271/.339/.497 at Tulsa last year with 17 homers and 58 RBI.
• Shortstop Josh Rutledge opened the season at high Class A Modesto, bypassing low Class A Asheville. A wrist injury limited Rutledge to 11 games and 39 at-bats last year at Tri-City after being drafted in the third round out of Alabama.