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2013 Outlook: Peralta could be in starter mix

Brewers starter Wily Peralta may have only six career big league appearances, but the right-hander already has an extensive history against the Rockies.

Peralta's potential promotion to the Majors was derailed in 2011 due in large part to a disastrous Cactus League start against Colorado in which he allowed five runs on five hits and two walks while recording just one out. Then, when Peralta finally made his Major League debut last April, it came in a relief appearance against -- of all teams -- the Rockies.

That second outing wasn't ideal either, as the Brewers' top prospect conceded one run on three hits in just one inning. Peralta is hoping the third time is a charm when he takes the hill opposite Juan Nicasio and the Rockies in the series rubber match on Wednesday night at Miller Park.

Following his April 22 debut, Peralta returned to the Minors before coming back and making five solid September starts. The righty went 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA while pitching into the sixth inning four times, including tossing eight scoreless, two-hit innings against the Mets on Sept. 16.

"Peralta has a huge upside," manager Ron Roenicke said earlier this spring. "If he pitches like he did a few of those games last year, he's got a huge upside."

As for Nicasio, the Rockies are hoping to see some of his upside this season as well.

The 26-year-old has shown flashes of his potential in two injury-shortened years with the Rockies. However, as a rookie in 2011, Nicasio suffered a broken neck after being hit in the face with a line drive and last year he suffered a knee injury while attempting to field a hard-hit ball up the middle.

Nicasio is healthy and returns to the mound Wednesday with a new weapon in his arsenal. The righty spent the offseason focusing on further developing his changeup to complement his 97-mph fastball. In his final test run this spring, Nicasio came away from a seven-inning Minor League outing pleased with his revamped changeup.

"I threw 105 pitches, and I threw 21 changeups and 21 sliders. I use a lot of my changeup now," said Nicasio, who barely used the pitch prior to last year's season-ending injury. "I want to work it into the games a lot more this year."

While Peralta looks to live up to his top-prospect billing in his first full year in the Brewers' rotation, Nicasio is just hoping to show the Rockies what he is capable of given an injury-free campaign.

"I want to pitch the whole season, not get hurt anymore," Nicasio said. "My body, my shoulder, my elbow -- everything is ready."

Rockies: Weiss trying to keep Pacheco involved

There isn't much Jordan Pacheco can't do for the Rockies. The only problem for manager Walt Weiss is finding a way to get the utility man his fair share of at-bats.

Pacheco led all National League rookies last year with a .309 average and hit .362 this spring. However, with a fully healthy lineup right now, there doesn't seem to be a place for Pacheco to get everyday at-bats.

The 27-year-old filled in at third base for an injured Chris Nelson last season and will spell Todd Helton at first base this year while also making occasional appearances behind the plate. Pacheco will also likely be called on to play the outfield from time to time and pinch-hit when necessary.

"My role is definitely a little bit different this year," Pacheco said. "I just want to help this ballclub out, whenever I get an at-bat, whether it's a situational at-bat or just getting on base."

Pacheco didn't come off the bench in either of the Rockies' first two games, but Weiss is hoping it's only a matter of time until he finds a way to best utilize Pacheco's bat.

"He's got a tough job," Weiss said. "Being that guy who can do everything, you're asked to do some difficult things. We're trying to create options for him. He's such a good hitter, we've got to find ways to get him in the box."

Brewers: Aoki focusing on leadoff job, not long ball

Despite logging the Brewers' first home run of the season on Opening Day, center fielder Norichika Aoki isn't going to abandon his usual hitting approach anytime soon.

Aoki, who hit .288 with 10 home runs in his first season in the Majors last year, was a three-time batting champion in Japan. Though he hit as many as 20 homers in a season in Japan and reported to Spring Training with some extra bulk this year, Aoki isn't about to start swinging for the fences.

"I can't really say," Aoki said when asked if he thought he'd surpass the 10-homer plateau this season. "I'd like to, but my primary focus is getting on base, because our real home run hitters are the guys behind me."

Worth noting

• Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have both homered in each of the first two games of the series. Tulowitzki is hitting .338 with five career homers at Miller Park, while Gonzalez is a lifetime .333 hitter with four homers at the Brewers' home ballpark.

• Since the start of the 2010 season, the Rockies are 9-4 against the Brewers at home, but just 5-8 at Miller Park.

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