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."