Wake up, pour a cup of coffee, turn on and warm up the Xbox, then watch the news on the TV above it. This is the morning routine of Rockies' No. 3 prospect
Christian Friedrich -- at least during the offseason in his new Florida home.
"I dedicated a room to..." Colorado's first-round draftee in 2008 said, "instead of having a walk-in closet, I turned it into my little man-cave."
Friedrich endured a difficult end to 2011, a year in which he went 6-10 in 25 outings at Double-A Tulsa. But the 24-year-old left-hander emerged from his happy place on a recent morning to tell MiLB.com about his passion for video games -- yes, he has the headset -- his fear of golf-course critters, his offseason workout regimen and his winding path to the big leagues.
MiLB.com: Easy stuff first: Who is the best video-game player among Rockies farmhands?
Friedrich: Out of everyone I know, I play the most. I wouldn't say I'm the best at all of them. Nolan Arenado [the Rockies No. 4 prospect] has been challenging me to play the NHL game, but he plays on PS3, and I play on Xbox, so we're going to have to figure something out come Spring Training because I have heard a lot of smack talk coming this way.
MiLB.com: Conversely, which teammate isn't so skilled with controller in hand?
Friedrich: One of my good friends, [outfielder] Charlie Blackmon, he's OK, but he's not the best. He's the guy hiding in the corner a little bit. He doesn't play all that much, so he plays as slow as he eats -- if you've never seen him eat, it's like a hamster putting food in his mouth. Blackmon, I give him crap because he plays very slow and it's a very fast-paced game. It's like watching grandma in a walker versus Usain Bolt sprinting past.
MiLB.com: Sounds like gaming brings you guys closer together...
Friedrich: It's a way to keep in touch with guys. Not many guys like to sit and talk on the phone for 25 minutes that you have to set time aside for. With this, we're competing as a team against some other guys, and you catch up along the way.
MiLB.com: We know what you like to do indoors. How about outdoors?
Friedrich: I wouldn't say I am a great golfer, but I enjoy the hell out of playing. It's relaxing, especially when I golf by myself. As [little] as your mental game can improve, this is a test of that.
MiLB.com: How does your scorecard look after a round of 18?
Friedrich: I'm very inconsistent. I can par four holes in a row, then turn around and put up three snowmans [golf-speak for an "8"]. I average in the 90s, somewhere in there, but the course I play out here -- everybody who has come to visit me has their score, whatever they say they shoot, go up by 10 strokes. So I am hoping that if I go to Arizona, I'll be better than how I play here.
MiLB.com: Golf in Arizona is more forgiving because of the thin, dry grass, no?
Friedrich: Yeah, but when you go out of bounds, you kind of want to leave your ball there; you don't know what is lurking in the desert, what might come up and get you.
MiLB.com: Florida's gators would seem more menacing than some rattlers...
Friedrich: We actually have a pond right behind our house on one of the holes, and I bought some waders that go up my hips, and then as soon as all the golfers were done, I'd go out and fish all the balls out with a little retriever. The [marshal] saw me one time and said that there are water moccasins and stuff in there and that I needed to get out.
MiLB.com: The Rockies organization would want you to stay dry too. Speaking of which, how would you evaluate your 2011 season? [Stats here.]
Friedrich: June and July went real well for me, and I need to find a way to stay consistent with that. I fell apart toward the end of the year, when I actually needed to stay strong to have a chance to get called up.
MiLB.com: Were you motivated by the July 30 trade that sent All-Star ace Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians for a package that included pitchers Drew Pomeranz, Alex White and Joe Gardner?
Friedrich: New guys coming in, I tried to take it in stride and say, 'Let's see what I can learn from a guy like Drew Pomeranz.' Obviously, that's a little motivation [for me] because he's a younger guy that's moving up the system quick, so I need to get my butt in gear. But, on the other hand, he's another lefty that I can talk to and relate to and see what we can learn from each other.
MiLB.com: Colorado added you to its 40-man roster on Nov. 18 to protect you from this week's Rule 5 Draft. As such, you will be invited to Spring Training's big league camp. Is the goal there to make the Opening Day club?
Friedrich: It's not, 'Oh, boy, I hope I get a chance and somebody looks at me.' This is my job, and now I want to impress and [earn] that spot. I want to make an impact in Spring Training, let them know that I'm trying to make the team.
MiLB.com: Are you already working yourself into baseball shape for that opportunity?
Friedrich: I started off slow and easy with simple stuff like push-ups and running and core work. After about three weeks, I started to get more into lifting and a lot more swimming and lengthening the workouts because I have nothing to do all day, really. Just gearing up.
MiLB.com: When will you start throwing?
Friedrich: At the beginning of December. And then in the beginning or middle of January, I'll go out to Arizona.
MiLB.com: For those of us who don't know, take us through those steps of getting your arm ready for a new season.
Friedrich: The [organization] give us a schedule that you can tinker with. For me, the first week I throw about three times, and I'm just flicking my wrist, extending my shoulder [without] putting a whole lot behind it. By the third week, I start putting the ball on a line and throwing a little more often. I will probably start throwing off mounds in early January. It's different for everybody, but if we start camp around Feb. 14-18, I like to have four, five bullpen [sessions] in before I get there.
MiLB.com: And who will be on the receiving end of your first tosses this month?
Friedrich: There's some people and friends I have made down here. I'm also hoping friends will [visit] and stay with me for a little bit. I have options, whether it's just a guy I met that I played golf with.
MiLB.com: That must be a thrill for them: They can brag one day, "I once played catch with Christian Friedrich."
Friedrich: Hopefully, when they say that, it actually has something behind it.