Ivan Nova said he arrived in Tampa two weeks before spring training officially started. He said he was throwing at the Yankees minor league complex, and for a couple of days, he didn’t like the way the ball was coming out of his hand. That’s when Nova and Larry Rothschild began working on a slightly altered delivery, one without such a long motion before Nova delivers the ball.
“In the beginning, it was hard,” Nova said. “But now I feel more comfortable. … I’m better down (in the zone), throwing more strikes.”
As you can tell from the picture, Nova isn’t exactly short-arming the ball, but he said he’s concentrating on keeping the action shorter from the moment his hand gets to his hip. Nova said that, from that moment in his delivery, he tries not to overextend to the back. He said he’s always thrown his curveball with that slightly shorter arm action, and now he’s throwing everything that way.
“I think he’s commanded his fastball better and I think he’s had a better downhill plane because of the little adjustment he made with his hands,” Joe Girardi said. “To me that (was) his inconsistency a lot of times last year was his command would get a little bit off. He didn’t walk people, but he didn’t hit his spots. And I’ve seen an improvement in that.”
Nova had a another good start today, giving the Yankees four scoreless innings despite — by his own admission — missing his spots a few times. There were some balls hit hard, but Nova stranded runners at the corners in the third inning, and his defense helped him get out of first-and-third with no one out in the fourth. He’s allowed one run and walked one through nine innings this spring.
“You see what happened last year,” Nova said. “I’m trying to forget. For me, I feel like if I forget what happened last year, this is a new year, a new spring training. I’ve got to do my best here. I’m really enjoying it, this moment right here and the way that I’m pitching right now.”
• Eduardo Nunez was charged with an error on an up-the-middle play and spinning throw that pulled Juan Rivera slightly off the bag at first. It actually wasn’t a horrible play, and it was his second error in 35 chances this spring. “I see positive signs,” Girardi said. “Those spin plays are tough plays. That’s probably the toughest play a shortstop has to make. And that’s something we’ll continue to work on. … (Nunez’s throwing has been) better. Much more consistent.”
• Speaking of throwing, obviously it’s Francisco Cervelli’s throwing that has earned the most attention this spring. “We knew he was capable,” Girardi said. “He got into a couple little funny habits, I think, and he worked hard to break them.”
• Today was the writers’ first chance to ask about the decision to option Austin Romine to Triple-A. As I wrote in the previous post, Girardi made it clear that the Yankees always intended for Cervelli and Chris Stewart to get the bulk of the spring playing time. Romine’s back injury last season, Girardi said, might have cost him a real chance to make the big league roster this spring. “I think that hurt his chances, but he’s got to look at that like it’s a blip in the radar,” Girardi said. “Overcome that, and go play.”
• This game was scoreless until the eighth inning when the Rays botched a potential double play and Bobby Wilson took advantage with a two-run double. The Yankees wound up winning 3-1 in a game that technically included two earned runs, but might have been a 0-0 tie if not for late defensive mistakes.
• The Yankees top offensive player was Thomas Neal with two singles, a stolen base and a run. … Gil Velazquez and Walter Ibarra each had a hit in their return from the World Baseball Classic. … Back up from minor league camp, Brett Marshall allowed two hits through 3.2 innings. His one run was unearned. … Juan Rivera had another hit. … Matt Tracy picked up a save.
• Is Derek Jeter still playing shortstop tomorrow? “He’s supposed to,” Girardi said.
• Is Andy Pettitte still starting tomorrow? “Yep,” Girardi said.
• Is Mariano Rivera still pitching tomorrow? “I think, I don’t know,” Girardi said. “I just show up and get a sheet and they tell me who’s playing.” Basically, this was Girardi’s way of saying that — as far as he knows — nothing has changed since yesterday in terms of the three big names scheduled to get in tomorrow’s game. If you’re going to be there tomorrow, you can still expect to see Derek, Andy and Mo.
Associated Press photos