Juan Nicasio “making remarkable progress” in recovery from broken neck

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Troy Renck of the Denver Post has an update on Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio’s recovery from a broken neck and the news is very encouraging.

Renck writes that Nicasio “is making remarkable progress” and “has begun throwing off a mound for the first time since his injury.”

Nicasio suffered a fractured C-1 vertebrae when he was hit by a line drive on August 5, but the Rockies now seem optimistic about his chances of pitching next season with a metal plate permanently inserted into his neck.

“It’s a miracle. It really is,” general manager Dan O’Dowd told Renck. “I saw him in Arizona working out in the weight room, running and pitching. He looked just like any other player getting ready for the season.”

Braves release Jose Bautista

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The Braves released veteran infielder/outfielder Jose Bautista on Sunday, per a team announcement. Right-hander Lucas Sims was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett in a corresponding move.

Bautista, 37, was recruited by the Braves in mid-April as a potential third base option. He inked a minor league deal with the club and lasted just 12 games in the majors, during which he batted a meager .143/.250/.343 with three extra-base hits and a .593 OPS across 40 plate appearances. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the big leagues — he collected 40 home runs, a .250 average and 5.3 fWAR with the Blue Jays in 2015 — his power has been noticeably declining over the last three years, and it’s clear the Braves don’t have enough time or opportunity to wait for him to get his groove back.

Without Bautista, Johan Camargo is expected to handle the hot corner on a daily basis. The 24-year-old infielder is working through his sophomore season at the major league level and entered Sunday’s game batting .226/.368/.403 with six extra bases and a .772 OPS in 76 PA. General manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged that top infield prospect Austin Riley could also get a shot at playing third base sometime in 2018, though the club has no current plans to promote him from Triple-A at the moment.