Ivan Nova is the kid in this back-of-the-rotation competition. By the time he made his U.S. debut in rookie ball back in 2006, Bartolo Colon had already won a Cy Young, Freddy Garcia had already made two all-star teams and Sergio Mitre was already three years into his big league career. Nova, though, has shown nothing but confidence this spring, even after a rocky outing today in Dunedin.
“I’m going to win (a spot),” he said. “I’m fighting for it to the end, and I’m going to win.”
Nova’s fastball command, especially down in zone, is one of his strengths. He didn’t have it today, and he couldn’t make the adjustment. That led to five hits, two walks and two runs through three innings. Joe Girardi went on the road specifically to see Nova, and Nova wasn’t at his best.
“I feel at first good because he came here to see me pitch,” Nova said. “I know I didn’t show a good thing today, but it doesn’t affect me. I’m mentally good. I’m strong, waiting for my next opportunity to try to fix what I did today.”
Girardi has seen better. This morning he once again brought up Nova’s first big league start when he loaded the bases with no outs, but got out of it without allowing a run (against this same Blue Jays team). Girardi said he was impressed that day because Nova showed “no panic” and he was still able to throw strikes. He’s shown some bravado, on the field and off, and Girardi said he’s confident it’s healthy confidence rather than brazen arrogance.
“I don’t see him show a lot of emotion necessarily,” Girardi said. “I don’t see him walk around here like, I belong here, I’m the No. 1 guy here. I don’t see him short-change his work. He works extremely hard. Those are things that tell me he knows what he needs to do to be good.”
Here’s Nova after today’s outing in Dunedin.
Associated Press photo