Want to make Ivan Nova’s spring look great? Point out the team-hit 16 strikeouts with only two walks. Single out that dominant early start when he went three hitless against the Nationals. Remind everyone of the mid-game adjustments he made during a start in Kissimmee.
Want to make Nova’s spring look a lot worse? Point out the team-worst 19 hits allow with a 5.40 ERA. Single out the last two start with at least eight hits without pitching more than five innings. Remind everyone of the fact Nova’s struggled with inconsistency in the past.
Here’s what Joe Girardi says.
“I’ve seen a guy that’s come into spring training that, it seems like he realizes how good he can be,” Girardi said. “And I think that’s important. I think for all young players, there’s that doubt always a little bit, can I do this on a consistent basis? Can I do it start after start, or game after game if you’re a position player? Do I need to look over my shoulder? Is there someone always doubting what I can do? I think he’s realized that, you know what, I can be pretty good. He came back last year and was really good, and I think that was kind of the eye-opener for him.”
For whatever it’s worth, the good of Nova’s spring really does seem to outweigh the bad. He has shown an ability to adjust, and he’s kept the ball in the strike zone, and he’s carried himself with a different sort of confidence and maturity than we’ve seen in the past. He gets the start today against Atlanta, and there’s absolutely no reason to believe he won’t be one of the five starters going north.
“It sounds simple, but it’s consistency,” Girardi said. “It’s having command of his fastball. And I’m not talking about hitting corners, I’m just talking about down in the zone because he’s got such good movement. When he has that, he’s going to be effective. … He’s been good. I think his sinker’s been really good. His curveball’s been good. I think he’s developing his changeup. I think it’s improved. He looks really strong. So I think he’s been good.”
· Remember that early plan to have Alfonso Soriano play some first base? That probably won’t happen anymore. “We’ve had him take some ground balls,” Girardi said. “I don’t know if we’ll do that (in game) or we’ll just use Kelly (Johnson). Kelly’s going to get another start over there, I want to say it’s Saturday maybe, so we might just do it that way.”
· Vidal Nuno is going to pitch in relief of David Phelps on Thursday, and Adam Warren will pitch in relief of CC Sabathia on Friday. Pretty easy to assume that means those two are the odd men out of the fifth starter competition, even though Girardi said that’s not necessarily the case. “We’re just running out of games,” he said.
· Preston Claiborne was scratched from the travel squad for today’s game. He is instead going to pitch two innings in a minor league game.
· Scott Sizemore was eased into games because of his back-to-back ACL injuries, and now he’s been slowed down by a sore quad. Can he realistically play enough this spring to make the team? “You know, I don’t know,” Girardi said. “We’re shooting for him playing at the end of this week. He’ll do some more stuff today and we’ll evaluate if he’s capable of playing, if he’s ready to play tomorrow.”
· Brendan Ryan is still on track to play tomorrow. He, Sizemore and Russ Canzler are each listed for full batting practice today.
· Pitchers Aaron Dott, Graham Stoneburner and Pat Venditte are up from minor league camp for the day. So is catcher Wes Wilson and infielders Casey Stevenson and Ali Castillo.
· Today’s second string: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Casey Stevenson, 2B Dean Anna, SS Yangervis Solarte, 3B Eduardo Nunez, LF Zelous Wheeler, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Zoilo Almonte, DH Austin Romine
· Scheduled relievers: Danny Burawa, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral and Shane Greene (with Yoshinori Tateyama and the minor league guys also making the trip)
· Tomorrow’s travel squad to Fort Myers:
Pitchers: Matt Daley, Chris Leroux, Fred Lewis, David Phelps, Yoshinori Tateyama
Catchers: Francisco Cervelli, Jose Gil, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine
Infielders: Dean Anna, Eduardo Nunez, Brendan Ryan, Scott Sizemore, Yangervis Solarte, Mark Teixeira, Zelous Wheeler
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Adonis Garcia, Antoan Richardson, Ichiro Suzuki
Minor league pitchers: Branden Pinder, James Pazos, Manny Barreda, Caleb Cotham
Minor league hitters: C Tyson Blaser, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Carmen Angelini, UT Ali Castillo, LF Ben Gamel
Associated Press photos