DENVER -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Juan Nicasio will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery Monday to remove floating materials in his left knee. Nicasio, 25, has now lost consecutive seasons to surgery. He underwent an emergency procedure for a broken neck -- suffered when he was hit in the face by a batted ball -- in August. This time, a strained left knee occurred when he was trying to field a hard-hit ball on June 2 against the Dodgers. Nicasio, 2-3 with 5.28 ERA in 11 starts, had fluid drained from the knee twice, but when it filled with fluid immediately after the second procedure, the Rockies scheduled him for surgery. Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said team medial director Thomas J. Noonan removed four pieces of chondral cartilage from Nicasio's knee, and followed up with a microfracture, in which they drilled holes in the knee to promote healing. The microfracture is the reason the surgery will cost Nicasio the season.
The best-case scenario will be for Nicasio to throw during the Rockies' Dominican instructional program in preparation to pitch in winter ball, Dugger said, adding that the injury should not delay the start of Nicasio's 2013 season. Nicasio was promoted from Double-A Tulsa late in May 2011 and was 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 starts when he was struck in the head by a line drive from the Nationals' Ian Desmond on Aug. 5. Nicasio tumbled to the ground, and his broken neck apparently occurred when his face hit the dirt. Dugger and emergency personnel at Coors Field were credited with recognizing a broken neck and following proper procedure to keep the injury from becoming worse, or even fatal. Emergency surgery was needed to put together his C1 vertebrae. Against long odds, Nicasio was able to resume throwing in the Dominican instructional program, and by Spring Training, he was ready to compete for a spot in the Rockies' starting rotation, which he earned in what many around the Rockies called a miracle. Nicasio's knee injury is part of a nightmarish year for Rockies pitching. Jorge De La Rosa appeared to be making progress after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last June, but after two setbacks, it's uncertain if he'll return. De La Rosa was expected to be the veteran leader of the staff. Righty Jhoulys Chacin struggled mightily (0-3, 7.30 ERA in five starts) before going to the disabled list with shoulder problems. The injury was later determined to be a nerve issue in the right side of his chest. He has not appeared in a game since May 1, but will throw his first simulated game Tuesday. The early part of the season, Opening Day starter Jeremy Guthrie missed three starts after suffering a shoulder injury in a bicycle accident, and he struggled mightily after returning.