Nova sees his opportunity

Ivan Nova was walking into the home clubhouse today at George M. Steinbrenner Field when he spotted something was missing in the room. Sergio Mitre’s nameplate had been taken down, replaced with that of injured pitcher Damaso Marte.

“I was walking to the kitchen and I didn’t see him,” Nova said. “When I see [Mitre], we start talking. I saw Marte and said, ‘Where’s Mitre?'”

The answer, as he’d soon learn, is Brewers camp – sent over in a swap for outfielder Chris Dickerson, who’ll arrive in camp on Saturday. The deal all but finalized what has been assumed for a while now; when asked if Nova will be in his rotation, manager Joe Girardi grinned and nodded. He’ll give the news to Nova officially on Saturday.

“When I came here to big league camp, I was thinking of making the team,” Nova said. “I still have that focus. That’s the only thing in my mind.”

With six innings of two-run ball against the Astros, Nova’s spring ERA sits at 1.80. He didn’t have his best stuff against Houston, but after seeing Nova struggle to get deep into games last year, Girardi said that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“I thought he battled tonight,” Girardi said. “He’s had some time off, but I thought he battled and figured out a way to get through six innings. His stuff was not extremely sharp tonight, but that’s actually maturing and a good thing. You’re not always going to have your ‘A’ stuff and be sharp, and you’ve got to figure out how to do it.”

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