Not much going on in the clubhouse in Tampa this morning, though there was some chatter about tonight’s Academy Awards. Who do you like? I’m sticking with “The Social Network” to win big, though I know some people think it may have peaked a little too soon.
Joe Girardi talked a bit about Ivan Nova during his session with reporters, specifically the issues Nova seemed to have getting out of trouble. While acknowledging that did seem to be a problem for Nova, Girardi also pointed out that it was a pretty small sample size – Nova pitched just 42 innings – so “maybe it’s not an issue and we’re making an issue out of it.”
“Let’s not forget the guy’s ERA was (4.50),” Girardi said. “For a rookie in a pennant race? There are a lot of guys who can’t put up a 4.50 in our division.”
Nova will be backed up by Sergio Mitre today, who is also competing for a starter’s spot. Boone Logan, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren are among the others scheduled to pitch.
• I know there was some discussion about Jesus Montero and the jump from Triple-A to the majors (if, in fact, he makes that jump this year). Girardi reiterated, unequivocally, that Russell Martin is the starter but that Montero is in the mix for the backup job. What’s the biggest difference for a catcher going from the minors to the majors? “Earning the trust of your staff,” Girardi said. If that’s true, then being a big league backup and getting to know the pitchers could only help.
• Interesting to see Eric Chavez at first base today. Girardi said Chavez will play third and first this spring, as will non-roster invite Jorge Vazquez, who impressed with his moonshot over the batter’s eye yesterday. Could Vazquez challenge for a bench spot? “It’s possible,” Girardi said. “We’ve always said he could swing the bat.”
* That’s an AP shot of Nova from last season.