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."