DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio saw his pitches improve during a 45-pitch session facing hitters, as he also participated in fielding drills on Saturday afternoon at Coors Field. Nicasio could be close to a Minor League injury rehab assignment.Manager Jim Tracy said the Rockies plan to announce a decision on Nicasio, who hasn't pitched since June 2 because of a left knee strain, after he comes to Coors Field on Sunday. Nicasio said at the end of the session he had tightness on the outside of his left thigh, but it was not a major concern. Saturday was his second session. "I'm throwing for contact, for groundballs," Nicasio said. "I had three innings of 15 pitches, and in the first I was up high, and the second and the third I felt good. I feel tight a little bit, but I feel I'm close to pitching again."
Pomeranz slated to start Sunday's finale
DENVER -- The Rockies officially announced after Saturday night's game against the Padres that left-hander Drew Pomeranz will start Sunday afternoon's series finale.
No corresponding roster move was announced. The struggles of Tyler Chatwood in a relief outing on Friday night put him in danger of being that roster move.Manager Jim Tracy named Pomeranz as Sunday's starter following the Rockies' 8-4 loss on Saturday. Pomeranz, 23, is 4-4 with a 2.91 ERA in nine starts at Triple-A Colorado Springs, after going 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA in four early-season starts for the Rockies. Recent reports say Pomeranz has regained his delivery, as well as the fastball velocity that was slightly down when the season began. Chatwood, 22, a right-hander, was called up before Friday's game, and gave up two runs and five hits in one inning plus three batters. At first, the Padres jumped on early pitches. Carlos Quentin, the first batter Chatwood faced, homered on a 1-0 pitch. As the outing progressed, Chatwood missed with early pitches and then was hit. A 6-0 lead became a 6-2 lead, but Rex Brothers replaced Chatwood to end the Padres' rally in the eighth, and the Rockies ended up winning, 10-2. Chatwood began the year in the Rockies' bullpen, but was sent to Colorado Springs to work as a starter, to build his pitch count and work on delivery flaws. "I saw a guy that was trying to do a better job of separating his hands sooner, which is a good thing because it keeps him over the rubber and keeps him behind the ball," Tracy said. "I also saw some things that he can gravitate toward and continue to learn from. "After it went from 2-0 to 6-0, the intention was to give this kid the ball and let him finish [the game]. That would have been the best-case scenario: have him pitch three strong innings and finish out the game. He's got to be more efficient in the strike zone, as do all of our young guys." The Rockies have been using Jeremy Guthrie, Guillermo Moscoso and Josh Roenicke as backups to starting pitchers in their four-man rotation, so they would be covered in the bullpen if they were to send down Chatwood to make room for Pomeranz.
Belisle has support for All-Star selection
DENVER -- Rockies players made T-shirts campaigning for retired Cardinals manager Tony La Russa to add righty reliever Matt Belisle to the National League All-Star team as a manager's selection. The full team will be announced Sunday.Belisle (3-2, 1.98 ERA in 39 appearances), primary setup man for closer Rafael Betancourt, was touched. "I just get humbled by the teammates, friends and people that are behind me for something like that," Belisle said. "The position I'm at, the job that I do, it's tough to make an All-Star team. It's something that all players who step into the Major Leagues would love to be able to do, but I don't think about it all that much."
Belisle is part of a late-innings bullpen that has talent, but not as much opportunity because the starters have struggled. Also, folks who are around the club see Belisle as a quiet leader, free with information and encouragement.The season has been difficult, but Belisle said blame and dissension haven't been issues. "I can guarantee you that even through the struggles, that long stretch, the Miami road trip, that whole time, I think it brought us closer together," Belisle said. "We've talked about pulling together some team meetings and whatnot, but we haven't really needed to, because we're doing what we need to do every day the right way. The results just haven't come."
Brothers gets job done against Padres
DENVER -- Rockies lefty reliever Rex Brothers, who has made major strides since a brief demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs, threw his best breaking pitch of the season in a key situation during Friday night's 10-2 victory over the Padres.With Colorado up, 6-2, Brothers replaced struggling reliever Tyler Chatwood with none out and two on base in the eighth. Brothers enticed Chase Headley to swing over a slider in the dirt with the count full for a strikeout, and retired the next two hitters as well. "In that situation, I would give it that [best of the season]; it worked out well," Brothers said. Brothers was sent down May 20. Since his return on June 2, Brothers is 1-0 with four holds, a 0.66 ERA and strikeouts of 21 of the 50 batters he has faced, against three walks. He has held opposing hitters to a .128 batting average. "I've put a good little stretch together, and I needed one of those, especially coming back," Brothers said. "I'm getting some confidence going."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.