Rockies vs. Diamondbacks spring training preview: Christian Friedrich returns to action

Dustin Bradford

Friedrich will make his first start of any sort in almost 11 months when the Rockies take on the D-Backs at Salt River Fields tonight.

If Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich exhibits any sort of nervous tendencies on the mound tonight, it'll be hard to blame him.

The 26-year-old left-hander hasn't appeared in a game of any sort since last April 21, when he allowed three runs on six hits in 4⅔ innings in a start for Triple-A Colorado Springs before being shut down for the season with a stress fracture in his back. It has been a long road back to game action, but Friedrich appears to be ready and has been one of the pleasant surprises of Rockies camp thus far, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.

Friedrich showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie in an up-and-down 2012 season. He posted a 6.17 ERA but was dragged down by a .351 BABIP-against. The peripherals were there; he struck out almost eight batters per nine innings and walked only 3.2, but he'll likely need to induce ground balls at a better rate than he did in order to have future success at Coors Field.

As it sits now, Friedrich is a long shot to make the Rockies' rotation, but those odds will improve if Jhoulys Chacin is unable to get back to form before Opening Day. That's why tonight's game against the Diamondbacks at 7:10 p.m. MT marks a big opportunity for Friedrich, and if he can get off on the right foot, it will be an interesting spring for the once-promising prospect.

Opposing Friedrich and the Rockies is D-Backs highly touted youngster Archie Bradley, who is among baseball's top 10 overall prospects according to most publications. Bradley, too, is said to be in the mix for a spot in his team's rotation, and a dominant effort against a pretty loaded Rockies lineup in his spring training debut will only help his cause.


Lineup

COLORADO ROCKIES ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Drew Stubbs - CF A.J. Pollock - CF
Michael Cuddyer - RF Gerardo Parra - LF
Carlos Gonzalez - LF Chris Owings - SS
Troy Tulowitzki - SS Mark Trumbo - LF
Wilin Rosario - C Andy Marte - 3B
Nolan Arenado - 3B Nick Evans - 1B
Kyle Parker - 1B Cliff Pennington - 2B
DJ LeMahieu - 2B Henry Blanco - C
Christian Friedrich - P Archie Bradley - P

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