Juan Nicasio’s recovery from a broken neck has gone so well that he “will have no limitations this spring,” according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy told Renck that Nicasio “has a very, very good chance to be a member of our rotation” and “is coming into camp with the mindset that he’s making the team.”
Colorado has plenty of young rotation options, so Nicasio will definitely have to pitch his way into a starting role, but the fact that he’s simply in the mix is pretty remarkable just seven months after a line drive to the head left him with a fractured C-1 vertebrae.
Prior to the scary injury Nicasio made 13 starts with a 4.14 ERA and 58/18 K/BB ratio in 72 innings as a 24-year-old rookie making the jump directly from Double-A, and his minor-league track record includes a 3.40 ERA and fantastic 467/104 K/BB ratio in 471 innings.
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.