TAMPA, Fla. -- Any concern the Yankees might have had brewing about Ivan Nova's early lack of fastball command was lifted after the right-hander turned in four sharp innings during Tuesday's 1-0 loss to the Red Sox.
Nova limited Boston to two hits over his scoreless start, walking none and striking out three. He said that his stuff may have actually been better his last time out, against the Blue Jays, but the Yankees will take Tuesday's results every time.
"For me, I was more aggressive," Nova said. "The hitters hit the ball; I've got eight people behind me, and you've got to pitch to contact. You've got to throw strikes. We worked in the bullpen a lot."
Nova is generally assumed to be a lock to serve as one of the Yankees' five starters to open the season, coming off a 16-win campaign last year, though manager Joe Girardi does not want Nova to become complacent about his job security.
"I thought he had better fastball command; I thought his secondary pitches were all pretty good tonight," Girardi said of Nova. "I think his fastball command will continue to improve as we move along here."
Nova said that he was "really happy" with his changeup, a pitch he continues to hone, and said that his confidence had not been shaken by the 11.57 ERA he carried through his first 4 2/3 innings of spring work entering Tuesday's start.
"I'm always confident, guys," Nova said. "It doesn't matter if I pitch bad; you've got to keep your head up and keep working. I know I [was] going to pitch good one day. Like I always say, you've got to look forward to the next start."
Two outings in, Mo his usual self
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera makes it look so easy, you could be excused for thinking the 42-year-old closer is already prepared for Opening Day. He certainly looked that way on Tuesday, ripping through his second scoreless spring appearance.
Rivera mastered the Red Sox in a blank fifth inning, pitching around a Bill Hall throwing error and breaking his first bat of the spring, shattering Lars Anderson's lumber.
"You have to work," said Rivera, who threw nine of 13 pitches for strikes. "It's not just going there and doing whatever you want. You have to work, make your pitches and work that strike zone."
Rivera's next spring appearance is likely to come on Friday or Saturday at George M. Steinbrenner Field against the Nationals or Astros, respectively. He said that as long as he has eight or nine appearances this spring, he'll be ready.
"I wouldn't be here if I didn't enjoy [it] -- put it like that," Rivera said. "Everything that we do, I enjoy, as part of Spring Training. You have to come here and work and be ready."
Nunez scratched, as hand pain persists
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez felt discomfort in his right hand once again after taking batting practice and was scratched from Tuesday's game against the Red Sox.
Nunez hasn't played since he suffered a right hand contusion after being hit by an Austin Hyatt pitch on March 5 against the Phillies. Nunez was in manager Joe Girardi's original lineup but was replaced at shortstop by Doug Bernier.
"We just said, 'No, you're still sore; let's back off a little bit,'" Girardi said. "Because of where [the bruise is] at, you expect it to be somewhat sore. You expect it to go away, but sometimes things just take time."
Girardi said that Nunez would not pick up a bat again until Saturday.
"I think we're dealing with a bruise," Girardi said. "When you hit, you've got to have that snap. That's where he got hit, and that's where it affects him. I don't think long-term we're going to miss him for a lot of time, but I'd like to get him back."
The Yankees announced that tickets to individual games at Yankee Stadium will be first made available in a MasterCard pre-on-sale from March 22-25 at yankees.com and yankeesbeisbol.com. For all other accepted methods of payment, the general public on-sale will begin on March 27 at 10 a.m. ET on yankees.com and yankeesbeisbol.com.
Yankees right-hander David Robertson (bruised right foot) was moving around much better without a boot or crutches, and he spent time working out on an elliptical machine on Tuesday. He could begin jogging on a treadmill Wednesday, and it is possible he could throw off a mound by the weekend.
Girardi said that he has liked the performances of his lefty roster candidates, pointing out Clay Rapada (0.00 ERA in 3 2/3 innings), Juan Cedeno (10.12 ERA in 2 2/3 innings) and Cesar Cabral (3.38 ERA in 5 1/3 innings) by name.
"We think we've got some options if we decide to take another lefty," Girardi said. "Time will tell."