Jorge De La Rosa likely to make season debut Thursday

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Jorge De La Rosa’s comeback from Tommy John elbow surgery has dragged on far longer than expected, but there may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel.

De La Rosa started a Single-A playoff game yesterday, throwing five innings of three-run ball, and Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that he’s now “on the brink of pitching in the big leagues.”

He’ll join the Rockies this week and according to Renck could start as soon as Thursday against the Giants, which would be his first game action versus major-league hitters since May 24, 2011.

De La Rosa has a $11 million player option for 2013 that he’ll obviously exercise, as that’s probably about $8 million more than he’d get on the open market as a free agent right now.

Report: Mariners sign Juan Nicasio to a two-year deal

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Mariners have signed pitcher Juan Nicasio to a two-year contract, pending a physical.

Nicasio, 31, spent last season with the Pirates, Phillies, and Cardinals, putting up an aggregate 2.61 ERA with a 72/20 K/BB ratio in 72 1/3 innings. He appeared in 76 games, leading the National League.

Nicasio will help bolster the Mariners’ bullpen behind closer Edwin Diaz. It’s not known exactly what role he’ll have but it seems reasonable to assume he’ll handle mostly the seventh inning while Nick Vincent will set up for Diaz. Nicasio does have plenty of starting experience so he could also spot start in a pinch.