SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich, the Rockies' top pick in the 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft, made a good on-the-mound impression with two scoreless innings -- with two strikeouts and one hit -- in Monday's 6-5 victory over the D-backs. However, he made the best impression the first time the Rockies saw him. Multiple injuries in 2010 limited Friedrich to 18 starts (3-6, 5.05 ERA) at Double-A Tulsa and ruined his offseason training. Friedrich started last season decently before enduring a rough second half and finishing the year with a 6-10 record and 5.00 ERA at Tulsa.
Even worse, he had bulked up to 240 pounds by the latter part of the season, partly because of his off-base workouts and partly because he had fallen into the habit of late-night meals. But this winter, Friedrich spent a week and a half training with Phillies standout Cliff Lee. Friedrich, who said he was floored by Lee's physical conditioning, dropped to 205 pounds, and he hopes to be in that vicinity during the season. Friedrich and Lee share representatives, who said Cubs lefty Travis Wood benefited from spending part of his offseason with Lee in the past. "We'd warm up, then we'd throw, then we'd lift, and before you'd know it four hours had gone by," Friedrich said. "He's one of the strongest guys I've ever been around. I knew he was strong when I'd look at him in uniform, but you look at him and he's like a cinder block from mid-forearm to his biceps." Friedrich also learned about pitching. "Downhill plane is something that's always been preached to us, and I thought I had it when I came to this organization," said Friedrich, who also is taking advice from Rockies veteran Jamie Moyer, who lockers beside him. "I kind of lost it a little bit. Just by watching him play catch, I figured it out again. "He'd say, 'Throw downhill.' I'd don't know how many times I've heard that. But just by watching him, how he throws downhill, it just kind of clicked in my head. He's real strong on having a short, strong front side, and feels that's an easy way to repeat pitches." With a strong camp, Friedrich could put himself in the Major League mix, either at the beginning of the season or at some point during the year.