NEW YORK -- Ivan Nova is only in the early stages of his program to return from Tommy John surgery, now entering his second week of throwing on flat ground, but just being allowed to have a ball in his hand has proven to be a thrill for the Yankees hurler.
"It's really awesome to be throwing a baseball again," Nova said on Wednesday. "For me, I was worried about it, how it was going to be. Would I have any pain, or anything like that. It felt a little weird in the beginning. Once you start throwing and getting more confident, you start feeling really good."
Nova made four starts for the Yankees before having the surgery performed on April 29. He is currently making 25 tosses at a distance of 60 feet, doing so again on Wednesday, and said that he plans to spend his offseason at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., instead of returning to the Dominican Republic so he can be under the watch of the club's training staff.
Tommy John surgery generally requires 12 to 18 months of recovery time. Nova said that he has not asked about the specifics of his timetable because he recognizes there is a long process ahead, but he is very much looking forward to getting back on a mound.
"It has been tough, missing playing," Nova said. "After the season, you take like two or three months off. It's not like that. I feel really bad. I wish I could be out there playing."
Nova said that he generally gets to Yankee Stadium early in the day and completes his workouts before his teammates arrive, not wanting to be in the way for their game preparation. He often leaves before first pitch and finds it difficult to watch the games on television.
"Watching games on TV -- sometimes, I don't even watch them," Nova said. "That's why you guys don't see me here a lot; as soon as I finish, I go home. It's not easy for me to be here. ... That's all I think about now. That's what I love to do, play baseball."
There is at least one small positive for Nova. The rehab from surgery has allowed him to spend more time in the kitchen, where he has refined his culinary skills -- mostly with meals like rice, beans and chicken.
"I've got like three different plates that I can make for my wife," Nova said, with a laugh.