Fighting back woes, Friedrich looks to throw soon

Rockies left-hander has no timetable, but is optimistic about rehab program

DENVER -- Back problems have returned for Rockies left-handed pitching prospect Christian Friedrich, who is on the Triple-A Colorado Springs disabled list because of back inflammation and is rehabbing at the Rockies' training center in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Friedrich, the Rockies' No. 1 Draft pick in 2008, made the Majors last season and showed promise (5-8, 6.17 ERA in 16 starts), but suffered a stress fracture of the lower back and missed the remainder of the season. A back flareup just before Spring Training made it impossible for him to compete for the rotation. This year, he hasn't gone past 4 2/3 innings in any of his four starts at Colorado Springs, and he has not appeared in a game since April 21.

Friedrich, 25, is 0-1 with a 4.30 ERA at Colorado Springs, with eight strikeouts and eight walks. He said Monday the he and the Rockies are trying to make sure he is totally healthy.

"The back is getting better, and I'm on a good rehab program," Friedrich said. "I've been here about a week and hope to be here for two, maybe three more. There's no real timetable since it's symptomatic, and we're going off how it feels. But so far, so good."

Friedrich hopes to start throwing again, light catch but not off a mound, on Tuesday.

The Rockies are counting on Friedrich as part of their starting pitching depth. The big club already reached into Colorado Springs for right-hander Tyler Chatwood, who threw well for two starts (1-0, 3.00 ERA) before being sent back to Colorado Springs on Sunday when Jhoulys Chacin returned from his back strain.

The Colorado Springs rotation also includes left-handed prospect Drew Pomeranz, who has put up strong numbers (4-0, 3.51 ERA, 40 strikeouts to 12 walks) in his six starts, and is considered close to Major League-ready, as well as veteran right-hander Aaron Cook (0-3, 7.40 ERA), who struggled early but had his best performance in his last start (one earned run in six innings at Salt Lake City).

Additionally, the Rockies last week signed three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt, who is working out in Scottsdale and soon is expected to pitch at Double-A Tulsa. While waiting to sign a contract, Oswalt faced hitters at colleges in Mississippi and might not need long before he is ready for the Majors.

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.