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."
Mesa decides to forgo World Baseball Classic
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sensing a chance to crack the Opening Day outfield, prospect Melky Mesa has declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic.
Bench coach Tony Pena, who is also managing the Dominican Republic squad in the tournament, said on Saturday that Mesa is passing on his chance to play with hopes of securing a big league job.
The Yankees are evaluating their outfield choices with Curtis Granderson expected to be sidelined until May. Mesa is considered the best defensive option of a mix that includes Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, Zoilo Almonte and Ronnier Mustelier.
"It's a decision that he has to make, and he wants to be seen more. I respect that," manager Joe Girardi said. "I told him, 'Whatever you do, I'll respect what you do. If you want to play, you go play. If you want to play here, you play here.'"
Six Yankees are participating in the Classic. Second baseman Robinson Cano and left-hander Juan Cedeno will play for the Dominican Republic, infielder Walter Ibarra and Gil Velazquez will play for Mexico, first baseman Mark Teixeira will play for Team USA and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte will play for Italy.
Yanks send nine to Minor League camp
TAMPA, Fla. -- After Saturday's game, the Yankees sent nine players to Minor League camp: right-handers Corey Black, Matt Daley, Nick Goody, Shane Greene, Bryan Mitchell, Zach Nuding, Mike O'Brien and Ryan Pope, and infielder Kyle Roller.
With the moves, there are 75 players on the camp roster, including Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, neither of whom will appear this spring, due to injury.
Heathcott, Logan dealing with minor injuries
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees had two injuries to report after Saturday's 10-3 victory over the Tigers.
Outfielder Slade Heathcott has been diagnosed with a sprained right thumb, and left-hander Boone Logan has been shut down with tenderness in his pitching elbow.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Heathcott's injury came after he collided with outfielder Ronnier Mustelier in Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Heathcott's MRI came back clean, according to Girardi, and he will be re-evaluated in the next few days.
The Yankees have been moving slowly with Logan, who made a career-high 80 appearances last season. Girardi said that Logan had a spot of discomfort in the back of his elbow and had to be scratched from a batting practice session on Friday.
"Boonie was doing good, and his elbow came up a little tender," Girardi said. "His MRI came up clean, so we'll probably just rest him a few days and get him back on the bump."
• Reliever Mark Montgomery made his second appearance of the spring on Saturday, allowing one run. Manager Joe Girardi liked the depth of Montgomery's slider, and the right-hander seemed to spot his fastball better as the outing went along. There has been buzz that Montgomery could have an impact in the bullpen this season, though general manager Brian Cashman has said that there is no chance Montgomery will go north with the team in April.
• Right-hander Phil Hughes (bulging disk) is scheduled to resume playing catch on Sunday at Steinbrenner Field. His session will be supervised by pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
• Chris Stewart hit his first home run of the spring on Saturday, but the owner of four career big league blasts knows that he won't be reminding anyone of Jorge Posada or Russell Martin with the bat this season.
"That's not my goal," Stewart said. "My goal is to help the team win any way I can, and I think I can do that better behind the plate right now. I happened to get a good pitch, put a good swing on it and it went out. That's not what I'm going to try to do."
• Actor Richard Gere threw out Saturday's ceremonial first pitch.