Walks hurt Nicasio, Rockies in 4-3 loss to Brewers
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Juan Nicasio retired his first seven batters before control problems hit, Boone Logan struggled in his Colorado debut and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Rockies 4-3 on Thursday.
Nicasio walked two in the fourth inning and they scored on Caleb Gindl’s double. He allowed consecutive doubles in the sixth and exited with two outs.
When Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was hit in the face by a line drive Wednesday night, it stirred memories of Nicasio’s frightening injuries from a similar incident three years ago.
Nicasio suffered a fractured skull, broken neck and bleeding on the brain when he was hit by a liner as a rookie in August 2011. The right-hander returned a year later, only to be slowed by a knee injury that required surgery.
Finally healthy this spring, Nicasio allowed three runs, three hits and three walks while working on his splitter.
”Being able to work out for an entire offseason I think is going help him not hit the wall,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. ”And I think the split-finger is going to help him be more efficient. He’s going to get more swings. It’s a pitch he can put hitters away with.”
Logan gave up three hits and walked in a run while getting two outs in the seventh. The lefty reliever had been recovering from elbow surgery since signing a $16.5 million, three-year deal.
”It was a matter of him getting out there, getting his work in,” Weiss said. ”It was a good step.”
Brandon Barnes went 2 for 3 with a solo homer for the Rockies.
Brewers: Wei-Chung Wang, a 21-year-old Rule 5 draft pick, entered having not allowed a run or walk in 8 1-3 innings.
The Taiwan native left still without issuing a walk, but he gave up three runs on five hits before being replaced with two outs in the third in his first start.
Wang acknowledged he was nervous.
”It’s good,” manager Ron Roenicke said. ”Nobody’s that cool.”
Wang, who has not pitched above rookie ball, didn’t help his cause when he forgot to cover home plate on a foul pop in the first and Drew Stubbs smartly tagged up and scored.
Wang has to stay on the Brewers’ 25-man roster all season or be offered back to the Pirates, a journey he said was like swimming with sharks.
”There are fewer sharks,” he said through a translator, ”but they’re still behind me.”
Brewers right fielder Ryan Braun was scheduled to play after a day off Wednesday, but didn’t make the trip because he wasn’t feeling well.
Roenicke said he’s hopeful Braun will play Friday.
”I’m planning on putting him in,” the manager said.
Colorado put catcher Michael McKenry on the 40-man roster after the game, adding another dynamic to the backup catcher competition.
”He belongs on our roster,” Rockies executive Bill Geivett said. ”He’s in contention for a job here.”
McKenry, who can be optioned to the minors, was signed in January after having his 2013 season in Pittsburgh cut short by a knee injury.
A spot on the roster opened when outfielder Kent Matthes was claimed off waivers by Oakland.
Milwaukee cut 11 minor leaguers, including Santo Manzanillo, once a top pitching prospect. Manzanillo struggled after injuring his shoulder in a 2011 car accident.
WAITING FOR A GOOD ONE
Brewers first baseman Juan Francisco drew two walks, giving him five in two days.
”This is better than we saw all last year, especially with the patience,” Roenicke said. ”It’s nice to see.”
Francisco hit .227 last season with 138 strikeouts.
”If teams can’t make him swing off the plate, they’re going to be in trouble,” Roenicke said.