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.

Report: Twins interested in Logan Morrison

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The Twins are reportedly interested in signing free agent first baseman Logan Morrison, according to a report from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The two sides don’t appear to be working toward anything concrete at the moment, but Berardino adds that newly-signed pitcher Jake Odorizzi has been having conversations with the slugger to gauge his interest in a potential deal.

Morrison, 30, enjoyed a tremendous season with the Rays in 2017. He finished his two-year circuit with the team after slashing .246/.353/.516 with a career-best 38 home runs, .363 wOBA and 3.3 fWAR in 601 plate appearances. It was just the second time he’d managed to produce more than 20 home runs in a single season, and he finished the year tied for fifth-most dingers in the AL and eighth-most in the league.

The free agent slugger has been linked to a plethora of interested parties this offseason, including the Red Sox, Royals, Indians, Angels and Mets, but hasn’t drawn any substantial offers in an admittedly slow market. Should he reach an agreement with the Twins, Berardino notes that the club could use him to back up both Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano in a dual first base/DH role.