SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.-- A Spring Training lengthened by the World Baseball Classic could work in the favor of left-hander Christian Friedrich in his bid to win a spot in the Rockies' starting rotation.
For now, Friedrich is not on the Cactus League pitching schedule. The Rockies' first-round Draft pick in 2008, Friedrich made the majors last season, but didn't pitch after July 28 because of a stress fracture in his lower back. Friedrich had back soreness just before this Spring Training began, and recent neck stiffness further delayed him. But Friedrich reported Friday morning that he is much better, and is pushing to get back on the mound.
Before the neck stiffness, Friedrich was completing a long-toss regimen and nearing the point where he was throwing off the slope of the mound. With no further setbacks, he hopes to reach the point where he is a serious candidate for the Opening Day roster.
"I don't know how far behind the other guys they're willing to let me get and still be taken into consideration," Friedrich said. "Once I start throwing off the bump, I'll start asking those questions and see how far I am behind the other guys."
Friedrich went 5-8 with a 6.17 ERA in 16 starts with the Rockies.
Hernandez again caught up in trade rumors
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Throughout the offseason, reports had the Rockies willing to trade veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez in an effort to improve pitching, and the subject returned to the front burner this week when FoxSports.com became the latest to mention the deal.
But Hernandez, earning $3.2 million this year to complete a two-year contract he signed with the Rockies, has learned not to let his mood spike whenever a new set of rumors appears. His name came up in reports last year at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, with the Mets being his supposed destination. Two years ago, he was with the Reds and it seemed he was headed to the Giants in a deadline deal.
"I try to come in, play the game," Hernandez said. "I remember when I was with the Reds, it was the same thing. Am I getting traded? The last few days before the deadline, the Giants' manager told me, 'You're leaving with us. You're going back to San Francisco.' Then later on I was told I wasn't going anywhere until the end, right at the deadline. Then the Reds put me on waivers, somebody claimed me, they pulled me back out, and I didn't go anywhere.
"Thinking about it is too much of a distraction. If it happens, it's business. But I want to stay here. Rumors get you kind of crazy."
The Rockies have depth at catcher. Second-year man Wilin Rosario is the starter, the club signed Yorvit Torrealba to a Minor League contract just before Spring Training began and multi-position player Jordan Pacheco was a catcher in the Minors and has impressed the staff with his work behind the plate this spring.
Batista looks to join forces with Weiss
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and a double play against Miguel Batista during his playing career.
Now Batista, 42, is in Rockies camp as a non-roster invitee attempting to make Weiss's roster.
"You're talking about a durable arm," Weiss said. "That's funny because of his age, but that's his strength, his durability. He's still running it up there at 94 [mph] at times.
"I got a very personal scouting report against him. The guy's been in the World Series. He's pitched in a lot of different games in a lot of different roles. There's certainly a niche for a guy like him. There's a lot of competition in that niche, but that's why we brought him in."
Weiss preaching toughness to Rockies
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Walt Weiss played for the Rockies when they were known as the Blake Street Bombers. With Dante Bichette in camp as hitting coach, Vinny Castilla helping out as a special front-office assistant and Eric Young working as a special instructor, there are plenty of reminders of the old days.
But Weiss is offering his new squad a new identity.
"Just in the meetings that we've had, I like the terminology that he's using, and the attitude that he's bringing, him, Dante and the staff, will be extremely beneficial to us," veteran right fielder-first baseman Michael Cuddyer said. "We've got to have that mindset that we're going to go out and dominate.
"'Blake Street Bullies' is the terminology that he's using, going out and bullying people -- aggressive baserunning, that type of stuff. A lot of terminology they're using is geared toward being aggressive, not passive."
Weiss figures getting a team to think tough is a step toward playing that way. Coors Field can be a tough place for opponents, and Weiss wants a team that offers reminders of how difficult it is.
"Regardless of what sport you're playing, I don't care if it's golf or tennis, if you don't have an aggressive mindset it's very difficult to be successful at the elite level or professional level," Weiss said. "Take advantage of the home-field advantage that we have.
"For us to win a division, you've got to be around 50 wins at home. You look at our lineup and there are some pieces there. There's power up and down the lineup. It's tough for an opposing pitcher. There are no breaks in the lineup. Regardless who wins a job here or there, it's going to be a lineup that's tough to pitch to."
• Third baseman Nolan Arenado, ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Rockies' system by MLB.com, had an RBI double and Matt McBride added an RBI single in the sixth inning of Friday's intrasquad game won by Triple-A Colorado Springs manager Glenallen Hill's team, 2-0, over a team run by Tulsa manager Kevin Riggs.
• Pitching carried the day Friday in an intrasquad game that included big league backups and prospects at the positions and mostly young pitchers. Righty Manuel Corpas, who threw two perfect innings with one strikeout, was the only pitcher with significant Major League experience.
Pitchers finished with 10 strikeouts and six walks. Lefty Nick Schmidt, a former Padres No. 1 Draft pick who pitched at Double-A Tulsa and Triple-A Colorado Springs last year, struck out three, and righty Parker Frazier, at Double-A last year, struck out two. Most of the pitchers worked for ground balls, with more success than not. Weiss said pitchers were not restricted from throwing any of their pitches.
"We're turning them loose to throw their pitches and they've been doing it in bullpens right from the beginning," Weiss said. "They're ready to execute all their pitches."
• Weiss didn't think of saving any souvenirs from Saturday's first Spring Training game under his watch until asked about it Friday afternoon.
"No question the first time going out there will be a special feeling even though it's only Spring Training," Weiss said. "I'll keep the lineup card."
Speaking of the lineup card, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will be on it for the first time since last May 30. Tulowitzki missed the remainder of the season with a left groin injury that eventually required surgery. Veteran first baseman Todd Helton, who underwent right hip surgery to repair a torn labrum last August, will not play and will be eased into action this spring.
The batting order is center fielder Dexter Fowler, second baseman Josh Rutledge, left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, Tulowitzki, first baseman Michael Cuddyer, catcher Wilin Rosario, right fielder Tyler Colvin, designated hitter Jordan Pacheco and third baseman Chris Nelson. Lefty Drew Pomeranz is the starting pitcher.
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.