On the day news broke of Mariano Rivera’s plan to retire at the end of this season, Ivan Nova stood in the visiting clubhouse in Jupiter and talked all about the way Rivera has never let him get complacent. With Nova back on the mound today, it seemed a good time to revisit the subject.
“He’s Mariano Rivera,” Nova said. “If he doesn’t want to do it, he doesn’t do it. I’ve got to feel special that he came to me and talked to me every day, trying to help me with anything that he thinks I can do better.”
Specifically, Nova said, it was in 2011 that Rivera approached him with some tough love, not letting Nova get comfortable even during that strong second half.
“He said, ‘You’re going to get sent down,'” Nova said. “That means you’re not doing everything necessary to stay. So you’ve got to keep doing more than what you’re doing. That means a lot from him. I’m not even family, and he cares about me. When he told me that, I couldn’t even look into his eyes. … Once he tells you you’re going to get sent down, it means, wake up. I’m still thinking (about that), and I try to do my best because of me and my team, and second because I don’t want Mo behind me, telling me you’re not doing this.”
Noav said Rivera has stayed on him this spring, still pushing to make sure Nova doesn’t get comfortable or take it for granted. Rivera said he learned — back when he was a kid himself — that veteran players can make a lasting impact.
“Steve Howe was good to me,” Rivera said. “Steve Howe was real good to me. Always was there, making sure I was doing the right things and motivating me always to do what is right and to go with everything that you have. I will never forget that, and that was ’95. Now we are 2013 and I’m trying to do it for the others.”
Associated Press photo