Ivan Nova went running through Boston with strength coach Dana Cavalea today. He wasn’t sure of the exact route, but at one point he was running along the river and over a bridge. For whatever reason, Nova seemed to enjoy telling that story. Mostly, he’s just happy he’s still with the team.
Until he’s told otherwise, Nova is going through his usual routine, preparing as if he’s going to start in five days. That seems at least vaguely possible, because his fifth day would be Tuesday, and Phil Hughes won’t be able to start that day if the Yankees use him out of the bullpen this weekend.
“We’ll decide if we plug in Nova another day or what we decide to do,” Joe Girardi said. “Our focus right now is to make sure we get through these three days and that we have enough pitching… (Hughes would be available) if we needed some distance out of a guy and we had used the other guys and our bullpen was a little light, Sunday would be his fifth day.”
It’s a bit of a strange situation, because the Yankees don’t want to give CC Sabathia too much extra rest, but they like the idea of giving Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia a few extra days. Girardi said it’s hypothetically possible that the Yankees could skip one of those starters entirely one turn through the rotation, giving them “a mini All-Star break.” Nova could help make that possible.
“It is a little tricky, but it doesn’t hurt every once in a while for those guys to have an extra day,” Girardi said. “At this time of the season with the innings that they’ve logged, it doesn’t hurt. Bart’s been in uncharted water if you look at the last five years and Freddy is on pace to blow by what he’s thrown at any point in the last five years. We just want to make sure that our pitchers are staying strong and that they’re healthy.”
The Yankees are hesitant to move Nova into the bullpen because he’s never pitched in that role, and also because they want him as a starter. There’s value, Girardi said, in having a guy like Nova waiting as a sixth starter.
“The concern about not having someone built up that has experience in Triple-A is the one thing you always worry about,” Girardi said. “Hypothetically, let’s say you send Nova to the bullpen and you lose his ability to be a starter and give you 100 pitches. What if somebody goes down or you need a spot start? Then you’re talking about calling up someone that has no experience. As close as our race is, every game is extremely important.”
Basically, it’s still up in the air, but Nova gives the Yankees options, and they like that. What’s next is still unclear, but right now, Nova’s not going anywhere.
Here’s Girardi’s pregame press conference.
• Girardi wanted to maximize his right-handed hitters against Jon Lester, that’s why Jorge Posada is in there and Brett Gardner is not. Lester has allowed a .205/.268/.274 slash line against lefties and a .240/.322/.415 against righties. “I just thought, I’m going with my right-handers,” Girardi said. “Jorge had good at-bats off of Lester last time we faced him – a couple of knocks – and that’s what I’m doing.”
• It was actually Lester’s start against the Yankees in June that Girardi’s thinking of — Posada went 3-for-3 filling in for Mark Teixeira — but the point still stands. Posada was out of the lineup the last time the Yankees faced Lester. Andruw Jones homered off Lester that day. Gardner went 0-for-4 that day.
• There’s also this regarding the decision to sit Gardner: “We had talked about giving him maybe a day at some point during this 10-day stretch,” Girardi said. “He played both games of the doubleheader in the field and he’s been running all over the place. With what Jorge’s done off of Lester, I thought today was a pretty good day to do it.”
• Girardi said there’s nothing new about Alex Rodriguez. The intensity of his workouts increased today, but there’s still no scheduled day for him to begin batting practice or to go on a rehab assignment. “I think you have to start see him start to take BP and run the bases and then you have a much better idea,” Girardi said.
• One more quick note on Nova, who impressed everyone with his slider last night: “I wasn’t throwing it too much here because I don’t really have the confidence to throw it,” he said. “Once I got sent down, I think it was the right moment to start working on it, and I work hard on my slider down there in Triple-A and I’ve got the confidence. The first time that I pitched in Triple-A I struck out 10 guys too, mostly with the slider. You have more confidence in that pitch, and situations that you have to use it, you have to use it. Especially days like yesterday, they can’t hit it, so I don’t see why I’ve got to go to other pitches if they can’t hit my slider.”
• Yankees Low-A starter Steve Evarts has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance enhancing substance. I’m not sure I’d ever heard the name until today. He had a 5.65 ERA in seven starts for Charleston. He’s a lefty originally drafted by the Braves and signed by the Yankees in December.
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Kevin Youkilis 3B
David Ortiz DH
Carl Crawford LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Josh Reddick RF
Marco Scutaro SS
Associated Press photos