Juan Nicasio impresses in first start since broken neck

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When Juan Nicasio suffered a fractured C-1 vertebrae as a result of being struck by a line drive last August, his baseball career was suddenly secondary. However, after making remarkable progress in his rehabilitation over the course of the past few months, it now appears likely that he’ll open the season as a member of the Rockies’ starting rotation.

Nicasio made his first start since the neck injury earlier this afternoon against the Athletics. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed an unearned run on five hits over three innings while striking out two and walking none. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post notes that he was consistently reaching 93-94 mph on his fastball, so he isn’t missing a beat with his velocity.

The results were nice and all, but it was also encouraging that Nicasio wasn’t fazed by facing live hitters again in a competitive environment. He got tested early on when infielder Eric Sogard, the second batter of the game, hit a line drive right through the box.

Nicasio showed a lot of promise last season prior to the injury, posting a 4.14 ERA and 58/18 K/BB ratio over 71 2/3 innings as a rookie. Let’s hope he can pick up from where he left off.

Phillies sign Drew Storen and Bud Norris to minor league deals

Drew Storen
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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported this afternoon that the Phillies signed veteran reliever Drew Storen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Storen makes the major league roster, he will earn a $750,000 salary.

Storen, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2017 with the Reds. That year, he posted a 4.45 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 23 walks over 54 2/3 innings. Storen then underwent Tommy John surgery, which cost him the entire 2018 campaign. He inked a minor league deal with the Royals last year but struggled in nine appearances with Double-A Northwest Arkansas, resulting in his being released in June.

Robert Murray reports that the Phillies have also signed pitcher Bud Norris to a minor league contract. The right-hander, who turns 35 years old in March, missed the 2019 season due to a forearm injury. Norris was last seen in the majors in 2018 with the Cardinals, compiling a 3.59 ERA with 67 strikeouts and 21 walks over 57 2/3 innings of relief.

The Phillies had major bullpen problems last year and haven’t otherwise made any new additions so far this offseason. They’re hoping Storen and Norris have a little bit left in the tank.