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Nicasio sharp in two innings against Reds

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Juan Nicasio made tremendous strides between his first two starts of the spring, moving from an eventful 1 1/3 innings of four-run ball in his first outing to two perfect frames Thursday on his second trip to the hill.

"The last time I threw a lot of fastballs that jumped everywhere," Nicasio said. "Today, I felt better because if I wanted to throw my fastball inside, my fastball went inside. I had command. Every pitch today I threw close to the zone."

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Nicasio stuck mostly to fastballs, throwing three changeups and two sliders among his 24 pitches, 17 of which went for strikes. He struck out the first and last batter he faced and induced groundouts from the four Reds he faced in between.

"He did a really nice job," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He was down. His slider was really sharp. He's got plenty of stuff. He's just one of those guys whose got to be in good counts, and if he is, he's going to be very effective, because his stuff is very good."

Catcher Ramon Hernandez noted that Nicasio mostly stayed ahead of the hitters.

Nicasio has shown great promise in two seasons cut shot by injuries, and as he strives for a healthy season, Hernandez emphasized the importance of forging a consistent and clear character on the mound.

"He has to get to know himself better," Hernandez said. "He needs to learn how to pitch when he's in a tough situation. What is the pitch you're going to throw in a tough spot? What pitch do you trust when you're in a jam or when you're behind in the count?"

Nicasio is working on the answers.

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