Thursday notes: Nova needs an adjustment
Ivan Nova’s ERA when pitching in the Yankees bullpen this spring is a tidy 0.00 (or so we suppose; we’ll take his word for it). In Grapefruit League games, it’s a much less ideal 11.57. If this were two starts into the regular season, there might be panic in the streets about what’s preventing Nova from taking his excellent bullpens into the games, but Nova seems confident that there’s a simple fix to be made and that he can get right back on track.
“I’m doing something different that I don’t do in the bullpen,” Nova said. “I don’t have my command. My bullpens have been pretty good.”
Actually, so was Nova’s first inning, as he set the side down in order. The second inning saw three runs come across, two on J.P. Arencibia’s opposite-field homer, and Nova ran out of pitches before he could complete the third inning. It wasn’t exactly encouraging, but on a day when the Yankees seem to have a legitimate concern with Dave Robertson’s health, there was no reason to get too worked up over Nova.
“It’s the second start,” Joe Girardi said. “These guys are just getting ready to compete and getting their arm strength. We saw some velocity out of him today. We saw some 95s (on the radar gun) today. They’re still going through all of that.”
What went right: David Phelps pitched 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, coming in after Nova left the bases loaded in the third. Dellin Betances and Dan Burawa each threw scoreless innings. Colin Curtis hit a ninth-inning homer to left-center field and Ramiro Pena had two hits. Raul Ibanez hasn’t played right field in a big league game since 2005 with Seattle, but he looked like a natural out there today. Ibanez tracked down a fly ball and fielded a grounder without incident. The Yankees want him to see time at the corners this season.
What went wrong: Another quiet day for the Yanks. Nova couldn’t harness his fastball, a Francisco Cervelli passed ball brought home a Toronto run and the big hitters in the lineup were held harmless — Brett Gardner had a hit, Mark Teixeira blooped a single into shallow left-center and Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-2. Cesar Cabral allowed a run and two hits in an inning. In one of those plays that won’t show up in the box score (or anywhere else, since the game wasn’t on TV or radio), Bill Hall was robbed of an extra-base hit on a terrific diving catch by centerfielder Anthony Gose.
What they said: “There’s always something in every camp. It seems like there’s something freaky that happens.” – Girardi, on Robertson’s injury.
What’s next: The Yankees are back at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday, welcoming in the Braves for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest, their first meeting with Atlanta this spring. Right-hander Freddy Garcia will make his second turn through the rotation for New York. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano are expected to be in the lineup as the double play combination, with Russell Martin calling the pitches behind the plate.