Colorado Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio is baseball's feel-good story. And spring training doesn't even start for four weeks.
Nicasio suffered a fractured C1 vertebra Aug. 5 when struck on the right side of his head by a line drive off the bat of the Washington Nationals' Ian Desmond. Nicasio was examined over the past weekend by the Rockies' medical staff when he was in Denver for Fanfest, and he was given clearance to throw batting practice this week without a screen to protect him.
Just how good a recovery Nicasio has made is apparent, as the Rockies are counting on the 25-year-old right-hander to be a member of their starting rotation. Quite a turn of events in less than six months.
As Nicasio lay on the mound at Coors Field, the C1 vertebra fractured from the impact when he was knocked backward and hit his head on the pitching rubber, the initial reaction was the hope he would live and avoid paralysis. Nobody, except Nicasio, even thought about his future on the mound.