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Juan Nicasio improving after surgery

ST. LOUIS -- Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy said pitcher Juan Nicasio was much improved and could be at Coors Field on Monday when the team returns from a seven-game trip.

Nicasio underwent neck surgery on Saturday to stabilize a fractured vertebra after being struck in the head by a line drive a day earlier.

Tracy met media Friday not long after a telephone conversation with the 24-year-old pitcher, who told the manager jokingly that he'd be ready to pitch in two weeks. Team medical staff has been optimistic Nicasio will be back on the mound next spring.

Tracy said Nicasio was in good spirits for the most part, eating well and sleeping regularly.