Juan Nicasio spoke to the media yesterday about two weeks after a line drive to the head left the Rockies pitcher with a fractured neck and the 24-year-old right-hander said: “I want to pitch again.”
Nicasio underwent surgery on a fractured C-1 vertebrae, which is the same injury that paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve and often leads to significant long-term problems. However, according to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post in Nicasio’s case “the only visible sign of his ordeal was the neck brace he wore to the press conference.”
If everything continues to go well, Nicasio could be cleared to pitch in the Dominican instructional league as soon as November. “I’m lucky,” Nicasio said. “God was very good to me. Some people who have that injury don’t live.”
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.