Touch 'Em All: Colorado's Nicasio has neck surgery

Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio was inured on a liner by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond. (Barry Gutierrez/AP Photo)
Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio was inured on a liner by Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond. (Barry Gutierrez/AP Photo)
Posted: August 07, 2011

Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio underwent neck surgery early Saturday to stabilize a fractured vertebrae after being hit in the head by a line drive.

Rockies trainer Keith Dugger said neurosurgeon Peter Witt inserted two screws into the damaged C-1 vertebrae and then sought to stabilize the area by putting a small metal plate on the back of Nicasio's neck.

Nicasio was placed in a cervical collar and remained under heavy sedation at Denver Health Medical Center but had control and movement in all his extremities.

He was reported in serious but stable condition and was expected to remain hospitalized about a week.

The rookie righthander was injured in the second inning Friday night on a liner by Washington's Ian Desmond.

Dugger said the injuries Nicasio suffered are more often associated with an auto accident or perhaps diving into shallow water and hitting a rock.

"We just don't see it that much in football or even in baseball," Dugger said.

Dugger said he remained hopeful that Nicasio could be back on the mound by next spring, noting there was no bruising, bleeding, or other damage to the spinal cord.

Avoiding a record

Brewers infielder Craig Counsell entered the game in Houston Friday night as a pinch-hitter in the eighth and shot a single into right field. That snapped the 41-year-old's streak of hitless at-bats at 45, one short of the record for futility by a position player, set by Bill Bergen of the Brooklyn Superbas in 1909.

Happ sent down

The Houston Astros optioned lefthander J.A. Happ to triple-A Oklahoma City.

Happ, sent to Houston in the trade that brought Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last July, was 4-14 with a 6.26 ERA in 22 starts. He has allowed five or more runs in eight straight starts. Happ was 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 13 starts last season for Houston.

"I'm disappointed," Happ said. "You never expect to be sent down. Hopefully I can go down and clear my head a little bit and get this thing figured out sooner than later. It's way too late to start feeling sorry for yourself."


Pittsburgh recalled righthander Brad Lincoln from triple-A Indianapolis. . . . San Diego placed outfielder Chris Denorfia on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. . . . Atlanta put righthander Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day DL with a strained right knee.

Contact staff writer Don McKee at

Read his blog, "Incites,"


This article contains information from the Associated Press.


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