Oakland at Colorado

    Scoreboard
    Oakland «2020010106--
    Colorado0002101004--

    Athletics 6, Rockies 4

    •  

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Juan Nicasio needs no reminders of the frightening line drive last summer that fractured his skull, broke his neck and nearly killed him.

    The Colorado Rockies' stocky right-hander got one anyway.

    In his first start since that game on Aug. 5, when Washington's Ian Desmond scorched a fastball off his right temple, Oakland's second hitter, Eric Sogard, sent a heater whizzing by Nicasio's head in the first inning of the Athletics' 6-4 win Friday.

    "It was close. I said, `Oh (shoot)!" Nicasio recounted. "Oh my God, it was close to me. But I don't think about it."

    After wiping his brow and taking a deep breath, Nicasio got back on the mound and seemed unfazed by the close call. He threw three impressive innings, scattering five singles, allowing one unearned run, walking none and striking out two.

    Nicasio threw in an intrasquad game earlier in the week, his first action without an "L" screen to protect him, and the Rockies were eager to see if he'd be shy Friday, recoiling or cutting off his follow through to protect himself because of what happened to him.

    "I see no sign of that whatsoever," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "That's so encouraging to see."

    Tracy, himself, cringed at the comebacker, though.

    "I can't really tell you how I felt about the baptism by fire, if you will, when I saw that one line drive go back through the middle. I mean, it didn't take very long for that to happen," Tracy said. "But, actually, maybe a good thing as we move forward. But I can tell you this, the ball was coming out of his hand big-time. The slider, it's there."

    He threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of the 13 batters he faced, and his fastball topped out at 94 mph.

    Nicasio, who went 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA and 58 strikeouts with 18 walks as a rookie last year before he got hurt, is trying to make the Rockies' rotation just eight months after the accident that landed him in the hospital for 11 days and had doctors - who usually see fractures of the C-1 vertebra in diving or auto accident patients - wondering if he'd ever walk again, much less pitch in the majors.

    Nicasio, who never lost consciousness when he got hurt last summer, said he had no flashbacks, even when Sogard sent the screamer whizzing past him.

    "Yeah, I'm not thinking about what happened last year," Nicasio said. "I'm not thinking nothing about that. Now, it's a new season, you know? I don't think about last year."

    Everyone around him still does.

    "I think I'm thinking about it way more than him," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "It seems like he's past it and moved on. It is a good story. I mean, it's crazy to me."

    "It was amazing, it's nice to see that guy going back to the mound after all that stuff that he went through," slugger Carlos Gonzalez said. "This guy's a tough guy. It's not easy to do what he's doing right now. He's a competitor. He's unbelievable."

    Tulowitzki said he was awed by Nicasio even before the game.

    "Today we started off with what we call rag-smash, it's basically pitchers fielding comebackers, and he made it to the finals," Tulowitzki said. "That was impressive to me. I was thinking for a guy to be last year on the field just laid out on the mound from a line-drive comebacker ... it speaks volumes about how fearless of a kid he really is.

    "And then to see him take the mound today, there was some balls hit hard back up the middle. Just to see him attack the strike zone even after those things happened is pretty impressive," Tulowitzki added.

    Brandon McCarthy allowed two earned runs on four hits in 4 2-3 innings for Oakland, and Jerry Blevins picked up the win by retiring the only batter he faced.

    Tulowitzki hit two doubles and scored twice off McCarthy to put the Rockies ahead 2-1 before the Athletics rallied for four runs off Tyler Chatwood in three innings.

    Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes will make his first start Saturday against Cincinnati. He'll bat second and play center field in his spring training debut.

    "We're just looking forward to seeing him out there and being part of the team and doing some things in the game," Melvin said. "That's all part of the camaraderie and chemistry. So, I think he's looking forward to that, too."

    Notes: DH Manny Ramirez will also return to the Athletics' lineup Saturday. ... This was the only meeting between Oakland and Colorado this spring. ... Rockies new closer Rafael Betancourt returned from a stiff neck that had sidelined him for a few days by throwing a 1-2-3 ninth.

     
    Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
     
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    Oakland Athletics
    HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
    Jemile Weeks, 2B3010001 .333
        Wes Timmons, 2B1100100 .368
    Eric Sogard, SS-3B5230011 .360
    Coco Crisp, CF3110002 .286
        Collin Cowgill, CF-RF2011010 .200
    Josh Reddick, RF3011003 .467
        Kila Ka'aihue, 1B0001000 .167
    Kurt Suzuki, C4011002 .286
        Andrew Carignan, P0000000 .000
        Fabio Castro, P0000000 .000
        Evan Scribner, P0000000 .000
    Brandon Allen, 1B3100001 .286
        Adam Rosales, SS1000000 .500
    Josh Donaldson, 3B3021010 .190
        Jeff Fiorentino, RF-LF1000010 .400
    Brandon Moss, LF3010022 .364
        Grant Green, CF1111000 .200
    Brandon McCarthy, P2000022 .000
        Jerry Blevins, P0000000 .000
        Grant Balfour, P0000000 .000
       a- Jonny Gomes, PH1000000 .188
        Derek Norris, C1000000 .250
    Totals37612618  
    a-grounded out for Balfour in the 7th
    Batting
    2B - Collin Cowgill (1, Cabrera), Josh Donaldson (1, Chatwood)
    3B - Coco Crisp (1, Chatwood)
    HR - Grant Green (1, Cabrera)
    SF - Kila Ka'aihue (1)
    RBI - Collin Cowgill (2), Josh Reddick (5), Kila Ka'aihue (1), Kurt Suzuki (1), Josh Donaldson (2), Grant Green (3)
    2-OUT RBI - Josh Reddick (3), Josh Donaldson (2), Grant Green (1)
    Team LOB - 6
    Oakland Athletics
    PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
    Brandon McCarthy 4.2422030 4.70
    Jerry Blevins (W,1-0) 0.1000000 3.86
    Grant Balfour (H,1) 1100010 16.88
    Andrew Carignan (H,3) 1000010 0.00
    Fabio Castro (H,1) 1100010 3.00
    Evan Scribner 1322000 4.50
    HBP - Pacheco (by Evan Scribner)
    Pitches-Strikes - Brandon McCarthy 24-24, Jerry Blevins 1-1, Grant Balfour 6-5, Andrew Carignan 5-5, Fabio Castro 6-6, Evan Scribner 7-6
    Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Brandon McCarthy 7-4, Jerry Blevins 1-0, Andrew Carignan 2-0, Fabio Castro 1-1, Evan Scribner 2-1
    Batters Faced - Brandon McCarthy 18, Jerry Blevins 1, Grant Balfour 3, Andrew Carignan 3, Fabio Castro 4, Evan Scribner 7
    Colorado Rockies
    HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
    Charlie Blackmon, CF3000001 .364
        Tyler Colvin, CF1000011 .300
    Marco Scutaro, 2B3010000 .100
        DJ LeMahieu, PR-2B1000001 .000
    Carlos Gonzalez, LF3000011 .200
        Andrew Brown, LF1110000 .250
    Troy Tulowitzki, SS2220000 .571
        Brandon Wood, SS2110000 .200
    Todd Helton, 1B2011001 .400
        Ben Paulsen, 1B2011000 .375
    Michael Cuddyer, RF1001001 .375
        Kent Matthes, RF2000010 .200
    Casey Blake, 3B2000020 .000
        Nolan Arenado, 3B2001000 .222
    Wilin Rosario, C2010000 .200
        Jordan Pacheco, C1010000 .500
    Juan Nicasio, P0000000 .000
       a- Jonathan Herrera, PH1000000 .375
        Tyler Chatwood, P1000011 .000
        Edwar Cabrera, P0000000 .000
       b- Jamie Hoffmann, PH1000001 .000
        Rafael Betancourt, P0000000 .000
       c- Tim Wheeler, PH1000002 .286
    Totals3449406  
    a-grounded out for Nicasio in the 3rd
    b-flied out for Cabrera in the 8th
    c-flied out for Betancourt in the 9th
    Batting
    2B - Troy Tulowitzki 2 (2, McCarthy, McCarthy), Todd Helton (1, McCarthy), Jordan Pacheco (1, Castro)
    SF - Michael Cuddyer (1)
    RBI - Todd Helton (1), Ben Paulsen (2), Michael Cuddyer (4), Nolan Arenado (2)
    2-OUT RBI - Todd Helton (1)
    CS - DJ LeMahieu (1, 2nd base by Balfour/Suzuki)
    Team LOB - 5
    Fielding
    DP - Tulowitzki-Helton
    PB - Wilin Rosario 2 (2)
    Colorado Rockies
    PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
    Juan Nicasio 3510020 0.00
    Tyler Chatwood (L,0-1) 3422040 6.00
    Edwar Cabrera 2333111 13.50
    Rafael Betancourt 1000010 0.00
    Pitches-Strikes - Juan Nicasio 18-17, Tyler Chatwood 22-21, Edwar Cabrera 19-13, Rafael Betancourt 5-5
    Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Juan Nicasio 3-3, Tyler Chatwood 2-3, Edwar Cabrera 3-2, Rafael Betancourt 1-1
    Batters Faced - Juan Nicasio 13, Tyler Chatwood 13, Edwar Cabrera 10, Rafael Betancourt 3
    Game Information
    Attendance - 9569
    Game Time - 2:41
    Temperature - 69
    Umpires - Home - Todd Tichenor, First Base - Dale Scott, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Mike Everitt