DENVER -- In a scary scene at Coors Field on Friday night, Rockies pitcher Juan Nicasio exited the game on a stretcher after taking a line drive off the right side of his head in the second inning.Nicasio, who was hit by a screamer off the bat of Ian Desmond in the Nationals' 5-3 win, laid still on the mound -- surrounded by Rockies' trainers and medical personnel -- for about five minutes before being loaded onto a stretcher. His neck was stabilized in a brace and he was carted off the field. In the eighth inning, the Rockies announced that Nicasio was resting comfortably in a local hospital and undergoing "a battery of tests."
On Saturday, the club issued an update: "Juan Nicasio is resting comfortably at a Denver hospital following surgery early this morning to stabilize a fracture to the C-1 vertebrae in his neck. Juan will remain hospitalized as he recovers from the surgery."
The frightening play happened on the second pitch of the second inning, with the Nationals leading, 2-0. Nicasio was moving his hands and appeared to be talking to team personnel before he was taken off the field, receiving pats on the stomach from teammates and Rockies manager Jim Tracy.Both teams displayed visible concern for Nicasio. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki crouched down near the third-base line, struggling to watch as the pitcher was being attended to on the mound.
After the game Tulowitzki spoke on behalf of his teammates, asking that they be allowed to focus on their thoughts and concerns for Nicasio.
Tulowitzki said players were told that the right-hander had suffered "some kind of neck injury," the severity of which was not immediately known."Our main focus in that locker room right now is Juan," Tulowitzki said. "We're obviously very worried, and our thoughts and prayers are with him. It's scary. We come out here and play baseball every single day, and sometimes crazy things can happen. It puts it in perspective."
Desmond looked toward the mound following the play, noticeably worried for Nicasio. He asked the Nationals' training staff throughout the game for updates on the Rockies pitcher and was relieved to a degree when told that Nicasio was resting comfortably."It's unfortunate, it's a terrible thing that happened," Desmond said. "But I think we all accept that as part of the game. After it happened, I asked the trainers if he was doing OK. They said he was doing OK and that they were doing some tests, and he was resting. That kind of eases it a little bit. "If they said he was in critical condition and things like that, you probably get a little more worried. It's part of the game and it's unfortunate, but you have to try and erase it from your memory as soon as you can." Visibly shaken, Tracy said that he previously witnessed a player suffer a similar blow to the head, making it hard for him to discuss the Nicasio incident. "I've experienced it before, which is why I don't want to talk about it too much," Tracy said. "I've had that incident happen once before in another place. It's no fun." The Nationals shared concern for Nicasio. "It's an unfortunate thing and it's part of the game, sadly," said Nationals closer Drew Storen, who earned his 28th save. "You can't control it. It's really sad to see it and I really hope he's all right. I haven't heard anything. "It might not necessarily scare us as much as it scares our families. That's the biggest thing to keep in mind. A lot of times it's not us that's out there worrying, it's our families."
Right-handed reliever Edgmer Escalona replaced Nicasio, who gave up two runs in the first inning.
Nick Kosmider is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.