DENVER -- The bright, shiny season at home was the main cause for excitement at Coors Field, but folks weren't ready to let go of the excitement over Juan Nicasio's return to the mound in the Rockies' loss to the Astros on Sunday.Nicasio's seven innings, in which he held the Astros to one run and had the lead when he left the game, were proof that the fastball is the key to good pitching. On the mound for the first time since suffering a broken neck on Aug. 5, Nicasio dominated the strike zone enough that he was able to use his still-developing secondary pitches without being hurt by them. "They were adequate yesterday," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Wilin Rosario did a very good job with him in using the secondary pitches. He used both the slider and the changeup. Were they extraordinary? I wouldn't go that far. "He was locating the fastball so consistently and so well that he could make the slider pitch and make the changeup pitch enough to keep the hitters off-balance so that they couldn't get a good swing off of him." Nicasio was 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA in 13 starts last season before the injury, suffered when he was hit in the head by a line drive and tumbled awkwardly to the mound. "When you see a guy perform like he did yesterday, it only makes you wonder how much further we would be along had we not dealt with that near-tragic incident that we dealt with last August." Tracy said. "We have a guy that's evolving into something pretty special."
Monfort praises fans before home opener
DENVER -- The start of the 2012 season left the Rockies in a semantic quandary. It's the team's 20th season, but because the club was founded in 1993, the 20th anniversary is next year. So Rockies owner/chairman and CEO Dick Monfort decided to give the year to the fans, who are there no matter what year it is.The Rockies have dubbed this "The Year of the Fan." The slogan is painted on the field behind home plate at Coors Field and has been a theme of the marketing campaign. "What has been the one constant in Colorado?" Monfort said before Monday afternoon's home opener. "The one constant is we have great fans. We fill the ballpark. We have x-number of Opening Days. A lot of people have to do gimmicks to get the ballpark sold out. We don't. "People love coming here. We have a great season-ticket base. We thought the best thing we could do was honor those people. That's the one constant we have." The Rockies are an easy sell to fans when it comes to heartwarming stories, thanks to pitcher Juan Nicasio's comeback from a broken neck and 49-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer's presence. Monfort said the team is one fans can get behind. "I latch onto this team, but maybe I'm a little biased," Monfort said.
Tracy getting to know Pacheco's tendencies
DENVER -- Jordan Pacheco's bouncing, wild throw from third base in the eighth inning on Sunday was the key play in the Rockies' 3-2 loss to the Astros. But Pacheco will get chances to make such plays.Manager Jim Tracy was questioned about whether he should have had Pacheco, a converted catcher, at third at such a key time. Tracy said Pacheco is making quick progress at the position. A few weeks ago, Tracy noted, the question was whether Pacheco could field the ball in the first place. Works in progress need work to progress. "The way I like to do things is I like to gather information, and the only way you're going to gather information is you expose a guy, let him play," Tracy said. "You involve yourself in situations like yesterday early into the season, so when you get into the season and the situation rears its head more than once and the suggestion starts to be, 'I'm not sure that this guy is a 27-out defender,' you make a move. "But you sure don't learn anything about it if you immediately pull him away from the action. Now you get to July or August and you don't have a choice because of things that have gone on in the game, but if you haven't garnered any information beforehand you could put yourself in a bad spot."
Learning hasn't stopped for seasoned Moyer
DENVER -- Rockies left-hander Jamie Moyer is still learning, even though at age 49, he is one of the oldest pitchers in baseball history."I've always asked a lot of questions, even if I felt like I knew the answer," said Moyer, who threw five competitive innings (four runs, three earned) in a loss to the Astros on Saturday night. "Because I've always felt that if somebody can explain something differently, or give me information differently, or give me a different viewpoint or a different perspective, it may make me a better player. "If I come here on a daily basis and try to become a better person or a better player, I'm doing the right thing."
Rox quick to move on from Houston struggles
DENVER -- The Rockies' revamped lineup began the season by hitting .198 while dropping two of three against the Astros to start the season, but no one in purple believes it'll stay that way. It's the old story of pitchers being ahead of hitters."They made quality pitches, and obviously it's still early," said left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, whose three hits in Houston were second on the team to right fielder Michael Cuddyer's five. "I know we're going to be able to do damage even when there is a good pitcher on the mound. It's already in the past. We have to make adjustments." The Rockies also pitched well in Houston, with starters Jeremy Guthrie and Juan Nicasio logging seven innings each, and there have already been some standout pitching performances. As for the hitters, it looks as if it'll take time. "Offensively, there's much more to come," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said before Monday's home opener, against the Giants. "We have to continue to play some more games and keep sending people up to home plate."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.