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Friedrich welcomes longer spring schedule

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When it comes to embracing this year's elongated Spring Training schedule, Rockies left-hander Christian Friedrich may be first in line to welcome the extra time.

After suffering a stress fracture in his back which shut down his rookie season last July and a subsequent setback when he experienced back stiffness before camp opened in February, Friedrich is eager to join the competition for a spot in the rotation.

"That's what you come into camp to do, to prove and compete with the guys for that fifth spot somehow, some way," Friedrich said Thursday. "I hope I'm not too far behind. I'll worry about that once I come to it. Everyone else is hating it, but I'll take any extra time I can to get past this minor setback."

Friedrich threw his first two bullpen sessions of the spring on Monday and Wednesday and was pleased with his results.

"No pain," Friedrich said. "Everything's as it should be. I'm recovering well. I threw all my pitches. I couldn't ask for it to feel better."

Frriedrich threw 25 pitches Monday, mostly fastballs and changeups with a couple curves, and 35 Wednesday, with all his pitches in the mix. He anticipates at least one more side session before facing live hitters and possibly beginning game action in a week to 10 days. If he can stay on track, he should be able to build up his pitch count with the longer schedule following what, for him, was an interminable offseason.

"It was probably the worst one in regards to boredom and impatience," Friedrich said of his winter. "It really tested my patience. Even though it was the offseason, I still couldn't train the way I wanted to. I trained the way I wanted to for maybe three weeks when I came out here, and then I had that setback. I was finally let out of my cage, and then put back in it as soon as there was a setback."