SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Juan Nicasio has been hit or miss for the Rockies in three Cactus League starts, sandwiching a scoreless start with two perfect innings between two appearances that left much to be desired.
Monday on the road against the Mariners, Nicasio was lacking command, throwing three innings of three-run ball, giving up three walks and four hits, including a three-run shot from Raul Ibanez.
"I wasn't sharp," Nicasio said. "I threw a lot of balls. That's what happens when you get behind hitters."
In his strong second start, Nicasio threw mostly fastballs, but the third time out he was focused on his secondary pitches.
"I threw a lot of sliders and more changeups, but only two or three for strikes," said Nicasio, who sees command of his off-speed pitches as the prime indicator that he's pitching well. "For me [the key] is throwing my breaking ball consistently for a strike. I can throw my fastball wherever I want to. Getting my slider and my changeup down [is critical]."
Nicasio made his big league debut in May 2011, but was limited to 13 starts when he was hit by a line drive on the pitcher's mound in August, breaking his neck. His comeback campaign in '12 was limited to 11 starts when he went on the disabled list on June 3 with a strained left knee.
"He's another one of our guys that's going to be a process, working his way back after missing a lot of time," manager Walt Weiss said. "He threw the ball really well last time out. The next step for him is just commanding his stuff consistently."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.