Nicasio Still Has Big League Dreams





DENVER—Not long after he suffered a broken neck, righthander Juan Nicasio had a dream.

He was on the mound for the Rockies, pitching against the Phillies. He had 19 wins and beat the Phillies for his 20th victory. Nicasio told general manager Dan O'Dowd of his dream. Curiously, the Rockies play the Phillies in September next year.

Nicasio reached an early milepost on his comeback when his neck brace was removed on Sept. 20. He had worn it since breaking his C-1 vertebra Aug. 5, when a line drive hit by the Nationals' Ian Desmond struck Nicasio on the right side of his face.

Two days after his neck brace was removed, Nicasio left for the Rockies complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was scheduled to increase his rehab activity there and in about two weeks begin playing catch.

"This guy is bound and determined and completely committed to getting back to that mound sooner than later," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "There are some additional things moving forward that we obviously will have to be very mindful of."

Namely, the psychological effects that will come when Nicasio gets to the point of throwing live batting practice for the first time.

"And I don't know when that is," Tracy said, "probably off in the distance a ways."

Nicasio's injury cut short a successful rookie season. He began the year at Double-A Tulsa and went 5-1, 2.22 in nine starts with 10 walks and 63 strikeouts in 57 innings.

Nicasio made his major league debut May 28. In 13 starts, he went 4-4, 4.14 with 18 walks and 58 strikeouts in 72 innings. Armed primarily with a fastball when he began pitching for the Rockies, Nicasio's changeup and slider had improved at the time of his injury.

As for when Nicasio might pitch again, Tracy said, "That's a complete unknown for sure."

ROCKY ROADS

• The Rockies fired area scouts Dar Cox and Jorge Posada. Cox's territory was north Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Posada, whose son Jorge catches for the Yankees, covered Puerto Rico. Both were on former scouting director Pat Daughtery's original staff.

• Outfielder Dillon Thomas, a 2011 fourth-round pick, was rehabilitating in instructional league following surgery on his broken right hamate bone. In 15 games at Rookie-level Casper, Thomas hit .328/.361/.414 with one homer.