PHOENIX -- After not throwing a pitch in the seventh inning of any of his Major League starts this season, hard-throwing right-hander Juan Nicasio almost went the distance in his latest Triple-A start.
Nicasio pitched eight scoreless innings, struck out six and gave up five hits in Colorado Springs' 5-0 victory over Reno on Friday night. It was his second outing since his demotion.
With the Rockies, Nicasio had dominant stretches but in the middle innings would go away from his power and end up in trouble. He was facing Minor League hitters on Friday, but Nicasio's plan and execution would work anywhere.
"He threw very, very well from all the reports," said Bill Geivett, the Rockies' senior vice president of Major League operations. "He had very good fastball command and his slider and changeup were very good, too.
"He was consistent throughout his pitch count. A lot of players and pitchers can really focus on what they need to do once they get out of the intensity of this level. That's all it was."
Before the Rockies sent Nicasio down, with his 4-4 record and 5.31 ERA, the Rockies received questions, and even discussed internally, about whether he could be more successful as a starter or a reliever. With a fastball that, when his mechanics are right, can easily reach 96 mph, the Rockies believe he can be the power starting pitcher the organization has rarely produced.
"We talk about a number of guys -- starter, reliever, what would be best -- but the thing people tend to forget is before he was hit in the head with the line drive [in 2011], he was probably our best starting pitcher," Geivett said. "Those last couple years have been trying for him, with the knee [last season] as well. We really feel he's got the makings of a very good starting pitcher."
Geivett said there is no timetable for how long Nicasio will stay in Triple-A.
Tulo, Fowler headed for rehab assignments
PHOENIX -- The Rockies will send All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and center fielder Dexter Fowler to Triple-A Colorado Springs for injury rehab assignments that start Monday.
Fowler, who has a right hand injury, is scheduled for seven innings, and Tulowitzki, recovering from a broken rib, will have two at-bats in Monday night's home game against Sacramento.
The Rockies have penciled in Fowler to play the entire game Tuesday if he reports feeling well Monday. They're going day to day with Tulowitzki's schedule. It's not clear if either of them will be back before the All-Star break. Fowler is eligible to return Thursday for the opener of a four-game set at Dodger Stadium. Tulowitzki is eligible to return at any time, but the Rockies don't want to rush him.
"Dexter has been running every day," Rockies head athletic trainer Keith Dugger said. "Tulo was shut down for a little bit because he couldn't run. We have to get his legs back. He's been doing that for 2 1/2, almost three weeks."
If Tulowitzki comes back Thursday, it would be right at four weeks, which was the best-case scenario when the injury occurred. However, Dugger said the Rockies aren't going to push him into the lineup before he's ready.
"That [timetable] is not dictating it," Dugger said. "It's the symptoms and how he feels."
Tulowitzki hasn't played since June 13, when he incurred a rib injury diving for a ground ball. Fowler was hit on the right ring finger with a pitch on the same day. He played on and off until he experienced pain in his right wrist on June 25.
Brothers honored to be mentioned in All-Star talk
PHOENIX -- Rockies left-hander Rex Brothers said even being considered to be included on the National League squad for the All-Star Game is an honor, even though he wasn't selected. Manager Walt Weiss said he hoped Brothers would be considered if an injury replacement is needed.
"I put myself in a situation, having the first half that I did, to be in that kind of decision," Brothers said. "I'm grateful and blessed to have my name in the same sentence. That would be maybe a once-in-a-career kind of deal.
"But right now, I'm just going to take a couple days off for the All-Star break and get rebooted for the second half. I think I'll go home [to Tennessee] and hang out with some family, relax, clear the mind and let the body rest."
Brothers (2-0, 1.02 ERA in 38 games) had a streak of 32 scoreless outings covering 30 innings from April 10 to June 28.
Rockies likely to seek rotation help from within
PHOENIX -- Rockies manager Walt Weiss said he isn't looking with envy at the big-spending Dodgers, who acquired starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco from the Marlins on Saturday in part because they were willing to pay all of the approximately $5 million of salary that remains for this season.
The Rockies are likely to face Nolasco during the four-game series in Los Angeles leading into the All-Star break.
"We pay attention, especially when it's in the division, and we're going in there pretty soon," Weiss said. "In this league, you're facing a big league pitcher every night. Don't make too much of it. We prepare for the guy we're facing and go from there.
"There are still guys [internally] that we feel like can help us. It's not that easy to go out and get a guy. They don't pick them up at the flea market. It's a process, trying to go get a front-line arm. But we're always trying to improve our club. We've got guys out there pounding the streets for anybody that can help us."
It's more likely that pitchers like young right-hander Juan Nicasio, veterans Jeff Francis and Aaron Cook, all at Triple-A Colorado Springs, or recently acquired Collin McHugh (from the Mets) will have a chance to help the Rockies. The Rockies are loath to mortgage the future in a trade for a veteran who may or may not be able to adjust to Coors Field as a home park.
The Rockies signed veteran Roy Oswalt after the season began, but that hasn't worked. Oswalt lost his first three starts, then left with a hamstring injury in the second inning Sunday against the D-backs.
Meanwhile, the Rockies compete in the same division with the Dodgers, who can absorb heavy salaries.
"When you have a lot of money, maybe you can cover up the mistakes you make as far as a transaction here or there," Weiss said. "Ultimately, you've got guys that go out there and compete.
"I'll let those guys [ownership and front office] worry about personnel and I'll manage the club. I feel good about the guys we have. We've got to have guys step up, no doubt about it, but the ability is there."
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.