Nicasio embracing new life as reliever

Acquisition expected to be long man; Frias shifting to starting role

Nicasio embracing new life as reliever

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- In the Major Leagues last year, Juan Nicasio was mostly a starting pitcher and Carlos Frias was mostly a reliever.

But in this new Dodgers world, at least at the start of Spring Training, manager Don Mattingly said Nicasio will be a multi-innings reliever and Frias will be a starter.

Nicasio had been a starter exclusively with Colorado until the middle of last season, but he responded to the demotion by pitching better in relief.

"I pitched better in relief," said Nicasio. "I like it. I concentrate on just the fastball and slider and can be aggressive, because I know I don't have to pitch six or seven innings or 100 pitches."

The Dodgers traded Minor Leaguer Noel Cuevas for him with the intention of having him replace Jamey Wright as the long reliever.

"He has a big arm," said Mattingly. "His 'pen numbers are really good. We think that's the best spot for him. With power stuff, he could be a guy that emerges and find a niche. He could have a big year."

Frias' first career start

In contrast, Frias has handled both starting and relieving roles through his career, even during his first callup with the Dodgers last year, when he started twice and pitched 13 times in relief.

"He's really an interesting guy," Mattingly said, "from the standpoint of stuff, his makeup, the way his ball moves. He needs to change speeds."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.