DENVER -- With a couple of key cogs -- plus several young players who could have expanded roles in 2014 -- involved in winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett and catching instructor Rene Lachemann will visit the country starting on Wednesday.
During the visit, Geivett said the club will check on catcher Wilin Rosario, who has played four games for Aguilas in the Winter League (3-for-16, one homer, three RBIs) after working on his catching fundamentals at the Rockies' complex in Boca Chica, Dominican Republic. Rosario's winter preparation figures to be brief: He plans to return to Denver in December to be with his wife, Genesis, for the birth of the couple's second child.
The trip also will give the brass a chance to check on right-hander Juan Nicasio, who suffered from fatigue during the season in his surgically repaired left knee but is rested and looking to participate in Winter League games.
Nicasio's 2012 season ended with a left knee injury he suffered on June 2, and he later underwent microfracture surgery. Last season, he started slowly before being sent to Triple-A Colorado Springs, then had several strong outings before wearing down in September. The Rockies felt the fatigue came from the fact he spent the offseason rehabbing and it cut into his conditioning time. He finished 2013 with a 9-9 record and a 5.14 ERA in 31 Major League starts and is expected to make a leap forward in 2014.
"I've been talking to him, and he says the knee is all the way back -- he's really worked hard on that," Geivett said. "He's been working at the complex already. The idea is to get him on the mound, and then get him into some [Winter League] games, which we're good with."
Jordan Pacheco, who hit .309 as a rookie in 2012 but saw his numbers drop (.239 average) in part because of a lack of playing time in 2013, has hit .310 in 16 games for Toros del Este. Pacheco played first and third base in 2012, but he saw little time at first base in 2013. Toward the end of the season, he was moved back to catcher, his original position.
Charlie Culberson, a former infielder who moved to the outfield before being called to the Majors in 2013, also is slated to join Toros del Este.
"I thought Jordan lost out on some at-bats and didn't get as much playing time," Geivett said. "He's getting some at-bats and catching a little bit. Culberson, we kind of force fed him in the outfield. So we're going to get him a little more playing time in the outfield, plus some time in the infield."
Also playing in the Dominican is second-base prospect Angelys Nina, 24, who has played the past two years at Double-A Tulsa and hit .280 with 10 homers, 51 RBIs and 19 stolen bases in 2013. Thus far with Toros del Este, Nina is 11-for-38 (.289) with one triple and two RBIs.