GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy said Thursday he is "very, very close" to setting his rotation and may have his pitching plans finalized in the next couple of days.
The only snag is the team's discussions about 49-year-old lefty Jamie Moyer, and how to slot him in the rotation. It's likely Moyer has earned a spot on the staff with his 2.77 ERA. He has outperformed right-handers Tyler Chatwood and Guillermo Moscoso.
Moyer worked deep for the first time this spring on Wednesday, throwing 89 pitches. On Thursday, Tracy said he was pleased to hear Moyer was only sore in the same way a 22-year-old would be. Although he's had a great spring, the question remains as to where Moyer would be penciled in.
Tracy also mentioned the possibility of using early-season off-days to go with a four-man rotation until April 15, adding the club may opt to hold out prospect Drew Pomeranz in an effort to keep his innings down. But that, too, hasn't been finalized.
Tracy noted the benefits that would come from putting Moyer, a light-throwing lefty, between a pair of hard-throwing righties. That indicates Moyer has the chance to fill the rotation's No. 2 slot between Jeremy Guthrie and Juan Nicasio, who is on pace to be the third starter if the schedule stays the same.
"It's also very important that you feel as confident as you can possibly feel that the person in front of him and the person behind him is capable of pitching you [deep] into a game," Tracy added, noting the uncertainty that surrounds Moyer.
It's likely Tracy will have made his decision before Moyer gets the ball for his final spring start next week. All that's left in the process, he said, is "further conversation" within the team.
"In my mind there's a strong chance that it is the right thing to do," Tracy said of finding a spot for Moyer. "His know-how, his competitive nature, his understanding of how to pitch -- there's a lot of balls in his court."
The biggest snag in the decision-making process is the novelty of the situation. No pitcher at age 49 has won a big league game.
"I wish I could know everything with regard to this, but I can't because it's never happened before," Tracy said.
As for Pomeranz, Tracy said he'd like to have both Jhoulys Chacin and Guthrie face the Giants in the second series of the season. That would mean holding Pomeranz, which could help the club in its progression of the young arm.
"We're going to have to keep an eye on this kid, because this is a very, very special arm," the skipper said. "You incrementally look to try and jump innings from one season to the next."
Nicasio works on commanding offspeed stuff
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Of the 22 batters Rockies righty Juan Nicasio faced in Thursday afternoon's 6-3 victory over the Indians, only two managed to put good wood on the baseball.
Both were long home runs, but Nicasio was otherwise sharp in earning the win. He struck out six, while allowing just two runs on four hits.
Nicasio's spot in the rotation was all but wrapped up heading into the start, and he added to his solid spring by consistently and effectively throwing his slider and changeup for strikes -- the first time he has done so this spring.
"I felt great," he said. "I worked in my changeup, my slider, a little sidearm some ... I felt very good today."
There is no doubt about Nicasio's fastball, which hit 97 mph Thursday. But whether he will be successful in 2012 will likely come down to how effective he is with the offspeed pithces.
Thursday was the first time he felt comfortable throwing all three of his pitches, but he said he'll continue to work tirelessly to develop his offspeed stuff. As a kid, Nicasio watched Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens as often as possible and noted how both had essentially "three first pitches."
"His changeup and slider today were as good as we've seen consistently during the course of an outing," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "That was very, very encouraging to see. I mean, he threw some great changeups." Tracy gushed when asked about how good Nicasio could be in the future. He added Nicasio may even have already mastered three pitches had he not suffered a neck injury that forced him to miss the final two months last season.
"I'm just wondering how much more polished he is right now," Tracy said of where a healthy Nicasio in 2011 would have put the current version of the 25-year-old righty. "How much further along would he have been had his season not ended in early August?"
Nicasio, who went 4-4 last season in 13 starts, got off to a hot start Thursday when he retired each of the first six batters he faced. But the Indians broke through in the third with a pair of solo homers.
Leading off the frame, Beau Mills hit a long home run on a 1-0 fastball that landed deep in the right-field deck. Three batters later, Michael Brantley hit one out to almost the same spot, also on a 1-0 fastball.
"I missed my fastball up in the zone," Nicasio said. "That's what happens when you miss your pitch. I tried inside, but it was in the middle up."
Nicasio responded in the fourth. After sitting through a long top half of the frame, he retired the Indians in order, and didn't allow a run in the fifth either before he was removed with a couple of runners on in the sixth.
Rox have been smart, aggressive on bases
GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- There's more to good baserunning than speed and quickness, and Rockies manager Jim Tracy knows that quite well.
To Tracy, it can come from anyone in the lineup, and that was evident on Thursday he said, noting the stolen base from catcher Wil Nieves, who has swiped just two bags in parts of eight seasons.
Good baserunning has a very simple outcome, Tracy said: "It forces mistakes, it forces unnecessary errors."
Tracy has been impressed with his club's smarts on the basepaths this spring and sees a big difference from the 2011 squad.
"Our baserunning has been phenomenal," he said. "Phenomenal. Running first-to-third, advancing on balls in the dirt, always looking for [what's next]."
The team's aggressiveness on balls in the dirt was a big point of emphasis for Tracy, who liked what he saw Thursday when the Rockies turned two balls in the dirt into wild pitches.
"The biggest difference up to this point in relation to what took place a lot last year, is we're ready every pitch on the bases to do something positive," he said. "That forces the other team to really have to play."
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.