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.
Chacin happy with fastball command in debut
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin's strategy Monday afternoon was transparent. In his eyes, it was successful.Chacin gave up three runs to the D-backs in his Cactus League debut, an eventual 6-5 Rockies victory, but just one -- Gerardo Parra's two-out home run in the second inning -- was earned. Chacin was hurt by two first-inning errors, one when he slipped while throwing to first and missed the mark, and another by first baseman Chad Tracy, who threw wildly to the plate and allowed two runs to score. But Chacin threw 21 strikes in 29 pitches while striking out one and walking one. Since commanding his fastball is assignment No. 1, and he really doesn't have a No. 2, Chacin, 24, left Salt River Fields at Talking Stick happy. He threw one slider and two curveballs. The other 26 pitches were fastballs. "I did what I wanted, which was throw my first pitch for a strike, and attack the hitter," Chacin said. "I can make outs with my fastball.
"They knew I was going to throw my fastball, but I wanted to keep using my fastball."The Rockies put Chacin in position to concentrate on his fastball, which sets up his changeup and slider -- pitches that often are considered among the best secondary pitches in baseball. In his first full Major League season last year, Chacin went 11-14, and his 3.62 ERA was third lowest over a full season for a starter in Rockies history. But rather than anoint him the club's No. 1 pitcher, the Rockies obtained veteran Jeremy Guthrie from the Orioles last month and signed veteran Jamie Moyer to a Minor League deal. Chacin can simply work on his craft and not have the added burden of staff leadership. "I just want to help my team -- throw more innings [than his 194 last year] and give the team more chances to win," Chacin said. "Locating my fastball and getting quick outs is the way I have to do it." Rockies manager Jim Tracy said no result during a Spring Training game trumps Chacin's need to establish that he will put his fastball where he wants it. Tracy said he set the priority for Chacin during a one-on-one meeting with the right-hander at the start of camp. "I told him to use this forum to work on it," Tracy said. "If you start to get knocked around a little bit, you've got to do a little bit better job in locating your fastball. But if he starts to get hit around a little bit because if they recognize on a given day that's all you're doing, then keep working on it. Don't be result-oriented. Get something out of this."
Paulsen plays hero with walk-off home run
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies first-base prospect Ben Paulsen was co-winner of last year's Abby Greer Award -- which goes to the prospect who performs best in Spring Training -- with reliever Rex Brothers. But he slumped to .241, albeit with 19 home runs, at Double-A Tulsa.Back at Spring Training this year, Paulsen is making a good impression again. His first-pitch homer in the bottom of the ninth on Monday off the D-backs' Jonathan Albaladejo gave the Rockies a 6-5 victory. Early in his career, Paulsen, a third-round Draft pick from Clemson in 2009, demonstrated a fundamentally sound opposite-field swing. But at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, he is going to be asked to provide power. Paulsen's mechanics were inconsistent last season, so the Rockies took him to the Arizona Fall League for more work. To progress, he will need to swing the way he did Monday with more consistency. The key adjustment was a toe-tap before his stride. It turns out the mechanics aren't new. "I did it when I was in Little League, trying to imitate Chipper Jones, being from Atlanta," said Paulsen, who was born in Florida but was an all-state selection as a high school athlete in Georgia in 2006. "When I did it [in the Fall League], it became real natural and I could see the ball better." Paulsen's homer came after two outstanding defensive plays in the top of the ninth -- one by second baseman Brendan Harris on a double play, the other a diving stop and strong throw by shortstop Tommy Field.
The Rockies scratched shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from Monday's lineup against the D-backs because of illness.
The club also sent first baseman Todd Helton and outfield prospect Tim Wheeler home because they were ill.
Helton is still scheduled to make his Cactus League debut Wednesday against the Giants at Scottsdale Stadium, but that could change depending on the Giants' pitching.
Veteran third baseman Casey Blake will make his debut Tuesday against the Cubs in Mesa. Veteran first baseman Jason Giambi grounded out and walked in two plate appearances during Monday's 6-5 victory over the D-backs.
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.