08/22/10 1:30 PM ET
Nova relishes second callup to big leagues
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
Even Nova, though, didn't think it would be this soon.
"It's a lot of emotion," Nova said of receiving his second callup to the Majors this season. "Right now, I don't have words to say. I'm excited."
Yes, four days after sharing a hotel in Columbus, Ohio, Nova and Nunez now have lockers next to each other in the Yankees' clubhouse. Nova just hopes his first Major League start with the Yankees on Monday night goes as well as Nunez's did on Saturday, when the infielder's first Major League hit drove in the game-winning run in the seventh inning.
"This is a big opportunity for me," Nova said of getting the start in Toronto. "I just have to go out and do my job."
Nova has been doing his job all season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with a 12-3 record and a 2.86 ERA in 23 starts. He's added a slider to a secondary repertoire that includes a changeup and curveball. Everything, though, works off of Nova's hard fastball, which he said he's locating better this season.
"He's got good stuff," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's got velocity, as well. I liked him in Spring Training. When he came up and pitched a couple innings in Detroit [in May], he threw strikes. It seems like he's got pretty good command."
Nova did say he feels a little more comfortable this time with the Yankees, since he'll be used as a starter. His two relief appearances in May -- spanning three scoreless innings -- were his first since 2008. Ninety-seven of his 104 games in the Minors have been as a starter. He'll be pitching on his regular fifth day on Monday against the Blue Jays.
"I had never been a reliever before. It was kind of difficult," Nova said. "[Starting] is what I've done my whole career."
Nova did make it clear that, unlike Nunez, he wouldn't be kissing any baseballs. After Nunez planted a kiss on the ball he smacked into right field for his first big league hit, Nova made sure to tease him about it. He wouldn't mind replicating Nunez's impact, though.
"I know it's a big opportunity," Nova said. "I'm going to try to be relaxed and enjoy it."
Girardi not lamenting A-Rod injury
NEW YORK -- Even though Alex Rodriguez's return to the lineup lasted all of one at-bat on Friday night before the third baseman was placed on the 15-day disabled list, manager Joe Girardi doesn't regret how the team handled the injury.
Rodriguez had missed the previous three games before he was back in the starting lineup on Friday. On his first-pitch groundout, though, Rodriguez aggravated his strained left calf muscle -- enough to land him on the DL after Saturday's game. He won't be eligible to return until Sept. 5.
"It wasn't like we did this on a whim. We consulted, we had him work out, we had him do things," Girardi said on Sunday. "The one thing that's always hard to simulate without sending a guy on rehab is playing in the game."
Rodriguez had said earlier in the week that he was having a difficult time gauging what he could play through since this was his first experience with a calf injury.
"I think Alex felt he was ready, too," Girardi said. "No one knows Alex's body better than he does. No one knows how he feels better than he does. You have to listen to the patient, as well, and he felt he was ready to go. It just didn't work out."
Girardi said that no tests on Rodriguez's calf were scheduled as of right now. The plan is for Rodriguez to travel with the team on its next road trip to Toronto and Chicago, where he'll be evaluated on a daily basis.
Without Rodriguez, Girardi said he plans to platoon Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez at third, most likely with Pena receiving starts against righties and Nunez versus lefties. Nunez was in the starting lineup for the second straight game on Sunday against left-hander Luke French.
It isn't as if not having Rodriguez in the lineup has cost the Yankees so far this season. Rodriguez has not played in 11 games this season; New York has won all 11. Still, even if the Yankees run off 12 more wins before Rodriguez returns to the roster, Girardi will happily slot his name back in the lineup.
"Let's hope we get to that point, and then I'll put him in the next day," Girardi said with a smile. "Basically, people have stepped up in his absence."
Yankees taking time with weekend rotation
NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the team has yet to settle on its starting rotation beyond Wednesday's series finale in Toronto.
Ivan Nova, Dustin Moseley and Phil Hughes will start against the Blue Jays before an off-day on Thursday. It would then be A.J. Burnett's turn on Friday, but Girardi could also opt to start CC Sabathia on regular rest in the series opener in Chicago.
"Right now, there's nothing etched in stone," Girardi said before Sunday's finale with the Mariners.
Complicating the issue was Sunday's forecast at Yankee Stadium. With rain expected most of the day, Girardi wasn't sure how many innings he'd get out of Sabathia and how much he'd need to dip into his bullpen.
However Girardi decides to set up his rotation, it's unlikely that Burnett and Javier Vazquez will remain back-to-back. Girardi liked having Francisco Cervelli catch each of those pitchers -- something he hasn't been able to do as easily with the two going on consecutive days the last three times through the rotation.
Girardi did say that, as far as he knows, there is nothing physically wrong with Vazquez, who turned in one of his worst efforts of the season on Saturday.
"Physically, we've had no issues with him," Girardi said. "And he has not complained of anything."
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte will be traveling with the team to Toronto as he continues his comeback from a strained left groin. ... With his start on Sunday, Jorge Posada tied Frank Crosetti for 12th place on the Yankees' all-time list with 1,683 games played. ... Mariano Rivera is one appearance away from passing David Weathers for sole possession of 17th on baseball's all-time list of games pitched. Rivera and Weathers are currently tied with 964 appearances. ... Rivera's save on Saturday gave him 25 for the 14th consecutive season, surpassing Lee Smith's record of 13 straight seasons with 25-plus saves. ... The Yankees played their first night game 71 years ago Sunday, a 14-5 win at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1939.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.