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WSH@COL: Nicasio leaves the game after getting hit

Eight months after a line drive hit him in the head and broke his neck, Rockies right-hander Juan Nicasio will make his return to a Major League mound in Sunday's series finale against the Astros.

A ball off the bat of Washington's Ian Desmond hit Nicasio on Aug. 5, sending him to the ground and silencing the crowd at Coors Field. Now, not only is Nicasio 100 percent healthy and back playing the game he loves, he is coming off an impressive spring (2-0, 3.90 ERA) and ready for his return.

"I'm going to think it's the same game in Spring Training -- throw my fastball for a strike, my slider, my breaking ball," Nicasio said. "It's the same game. I don't want to change.

"But sometimes when I'm in my hotel, I'd think, 'Oh, my, it's unbelievable. Eight months ago, I broke my neck. Now I'm back. It's crazy."

Opposing Nicasio is the Astros' Bud Norris, who, despite going 6-11 last season, posted a solid 3.77 ERA. He also had a good spring, going 3-2 with a 4.00 ERA in 18 innings.

"It's a new year and an opportunity to get better and help this team win some games," Norris said. "I'm excited to get out there [for] a Sunday day game and get 2012 going."

Though he's beginning his third full season in the Majors, the 27-year-old right-hander admitted that he'll have to remember to keep his excitement in check during his season debut.

"I'm sure there will be a little anxiousness. You just have to remember what you've done and the preparation is going to play off," Norris said. "I just want to get down in the bullpen and get my stuff going, and when you're out there on the mound, you just start competing."

Norris looks to continue the rotation's strong start, as Astros starters haven't allowed an earned run through the season's first two games.

Rockies: Rosario, Pacheco to start
Catcher Wilin Rosario and infielder Jordan Pacheco, both of whom had impressive springs, are going to make their first starts of the season on Sunday. Rosario hit .418 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in camp, and Pacheco hit .339 with seven doubles.

Astros: Saturday's historic moment
Saturday marked the 12th anniversary of the first regular-season game played at Minute Maid Park (then Enron Field). The Astros lost that game to the Phillies, 4-1.

• This season the Astros had the youngest Opening Day roster in the National League, with an average age of 27.82.

Worth noting
• Jordan Schafer is the only Houston player who has faced Nicasio. He is 2-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts against the right-hander.

• Norris has made one career start against the Rockies, on Aug. 23 of last year, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits in five innings.

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