TAMPA, Fla. -- Ivan Nova's confidence may have been dented when his second-half struggles prompted the Yankees to leave him off the postseason roster, but the right-hander aims to prove a point this spring.
Nova was sharp in his first Grapefruit League start, on Saturday, spinning two innings of scoreless one-hit ball in a 10-3 victory over a split squad of Detroit Tigers. Nova threw 22 of his 27 pitches for strikes and said that he has been working on getting ahead in the count.
"It's something that I have to do," Nova said. "Nobody has to tell me that I have to throw strikes. It's obvious you have to throw strikes as a pitcher, attack the hitter.
"You don't have to wait for someone to let you know or tell you what you have to do. I'm a grown man, so I'm going to do what I have to do in this game."
Manager Joe Girardi was encouraged, saying that Nova's fastball looked "really downhill."
"When he's consistent, he's dynamite," Girardi said. "He wins and he pitches extremely well. For me, he needs to be confident in his stuff, and he needs to be confident in his abilities to really make it work."
Catcher Chris Stewart said that Nova had a longer arm motion last season that was difficult to repeat, but Nova has now shortened it. Stewart said that the early results suggest it was a good change for Nova, who won 16 games for the Yanks in 2011.
"Hopefully, he's the guy we saw two years ago," Stewart said, "going out there with confidence every single day and not afraid of throwing strikes and daring people to try to hit them. We saw that a little bit last year. It kind of fell off at the end, but he's got the stuff. Obviously, it's just a matter of putting it together. If he can do what he did today, he's going to be real good."