Nicasio passes another test in remarkable return

By ARNIE STAPLETON | March 9, 2012 | 9:27 PM EST

Colorado Rockies' Michael Cuddyer pulls in a fly ball spring training baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Friday, March 9, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Juan Nicasio took another big step in his remarkable comeback from a broken neck when he threw three impressive innings Friday in the Colorado Rockies' 6-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics.

This was his first start since Aug. 5, when Washington's Ian Desmond scorched a line drive that struck the stocky right-hander in his right temple, fracturing his skull. The fall broke his neck.

Eight months later, Nicasio is trying to earn a spot in the Rockies' rotation, and the club was eager to see if he'd be gun shy, recoiling or cutting off his follow through to protect himself.

He showed none of that, not even after Eric Sogard sent a comebacker right past him for a single in the first inning.

Nicasio gave up an unearned run on five singles.