Friedrich's season ends with back injury

Friedrich's season ends with back injury

DENVER -- Rockies rookie left-handed pitcher Christian Friedrich said Friday he will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture on the right side of his lower spine.

Friedrich (5-8, 6.17 ERA in 84 2/3 innings) becomes the latest Rockies pitcher injured in a season that has been painful in all ways on the mound.

The Rockies pushed Friedrich's next start from Thursday to Sunday because of pain in the back and general soreness. The key, though, was for Friedrich to throw a bullpen session on Friday. It went so poorly that Friedrich underwent an MRI that revealed the stress fracture. Friedrich was not sure of the treatment plan, and the Rockies did not make an official announcement about the injury..

"I kept trying and felt OK through the first 15 pitches -- not great, but manageable," Friedrich said in the Coors Field clubhouse after the Rockies were pasted by the Giants, 16-4. "What I was actually worried about was sitting down and getting back up, and seeing if it stiffens up. Then Bo [McLaughlin, a Rockies pitching coach] was getting on me because he said I was changing stuff, protecting it."

It was a major blow for Friedrich, 25, the Rockies No. 1 pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Injuries and inconsistency plagued much of his Minor League career. Last year at Double-A Tulsa, Friedrich went 6-10 with a 5.00 ERA in 25 starts before being shut down with biceps tendinitis.

This year, after remaking his body and his motion, Friedrich impressed the Rockies in Spring Training and was called up after six starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Counting those 30 innings, he has thrown 114 2/3 this season. The Rockies felt it was important for him to work through the soreness and make it to the end of the season healthy, but that was before they discovered the stress fracture.

The Rockies' 5.45 ERA, which has included poor work by the starters, represents the worst pitching in the Majors.

Juan Nicasio (2-3, 5.28 ERA) sustained what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury on June 2. Jhoulys Chacin (0-3, 7.30) hasn't pitched since May 1 because of a nerve issue in his chest and is two rehab starts from returning. Lefty veteran Jorge De La Rosa underwent Tommy John surgery last June and has been kept off the Major League mound by a series of setbacks this season. Also, rookie lefty Drew Pomeranz (1-6, 5.13) has been dealing with arm soreness recently.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.