NEW YORK -- Vidal Nuno, who is replacing the injured Ivan Nova in the Yankees' rotation, understands that he is getting a big chance to prove himself.
"It's a big step," said Nuno, who has made just four big league starts. "It's trying to stick, trying to produce and trying to get people out."
The 26-year-old Nuno pitched five scoreless innings against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Sunday, but at that point, it was just a spot start because the Yankees played a doubleheader earlier in the week and didn't want to pitch anyone else on short rest. This time, there's an actual spot in the rotation that has Nuno's name on it.
"It's nice to have a routine, to have regular bullpen sessions," Nuno said.
Nuno appreciates any opportunity he gets. The 48th-round Draft pick of the Indians in 2009 was never considered a big prospect.
One reason for that, Nuno said, is that he weighed only 145 pounds in high school, and his fastball topped out at 83 mph. The 5-foot-11 Nuno has steadily put on weight and strength since then, to the point that he now weighs 210 pounds and his fastball this season has averaged 88.7 mph, according to Fangraphs.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.