Juan Nicasio throws to hitters five months after broken neck

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Rockies’ right-hander Juan Nicasio suffered a fractured C-1 vertebrae when he was hit by a comebacker last August, but he continues to show remarkable signs of progress.

According to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, Nicasio has begun throwing to live hitters in a controlled environment.

“He’s been throwing to hitters with an L screen (that provides protection),” said Rolando Fernandez, the Rockies’ director of Latin America operations. “He’s doing good.”

Renck writes that Nicasio has shown “outstanding velocity” this winter and has told friends and family that he will return to the big leagues. Barring any setbacks, the hope is that he’ll start throwing without a screen before spring training so that he can compete for a rotation spot. Pretty easy to root for this guy.

Nicasio, 25, posted a 4.14 ERA and a promising 58/18 K/BB ratio over 71 1/3 innings as a rookie last season.

Mets sign Vance Worley and Scott Copeland

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The Mets have signed pitchers Vance Worley and Scott Copeland minor league deals.

Worley had signed with the Reds in January but was cut by Cincinnati after failing to impress in spring training. That comes on the heels of a disastrous 2017 in which he pitched in 24 games for the Marlins, 12 as a starter, and posted an ugly 6.91 ERA, giving up 99 hits in 71.2 innings. He was much better in 2016 with the Orioles, in which he had a 3.53 ERA with a much lower hit rate in 31 relief appearances and four starts. As is so often the case, when a guy has some good year, as Worley has, he’ll get two or three or sometimes more chances to show he’s truly cooked. Worley will now try to make the most of it, most likely at Los Vegas.

Copeland with the Marlins last year too, though he spent all year at Triple-A. Copeland hasn’t appeared in a major league game since 2015, when he posted a 6.46 ERA in 15.1 innings with the Blue Jays.

Viva organizational depth.