Nova prepared for whatever role Yanks need

Nova prepared for whatever role Yanks need

TORONTO -- For Ivan Nova, the strangest part of serving as a reliever hasn't been finding time to squeeze in his long runs or throwing sessions. The Yankees right-hander is generally continuing to prepare as though he is a starting pitcher, so not much has changed there.

For Nova, the part he has had the most trouble getting used to has been seeing the bullpen doors swing open and having to make that jog across the outfield. Nova entered Tuesday's series opener in Toronto having appeared once this season, picking up the save in New York's first win of the year last Wednesday vs. Houston.

"To do that long run to the mound, it was strange," Nova said on Tuesday. "The good thing was, they gave me some time to warm up. They didn't rush me or anything like that. I saw [Michael] Pineda was getting in trouble and they gave me time to get ready. That was pretty nice of them."

Nova, 29, seems to be taking his new assignment in stride. All but eight of his big league appearances have been as a starter, but the Yankees decided to give the No. 5 rotation spot to CC Sabathia this spring, leaving Nova to wonder when his next appearance will come.

He worked four scoreless, four-hit innings in a 16-6 Yankees victory over the Astros in New York, and since he threw 56 pitches, Nova knew that he wouldn't be asked to take the mound again for a few days. Should a Yankees starter struggle this week against the Blue Jays, Nova could hear the phone ring for him.

"I feel like I can use him in a lot of different situations," manager Joe Girardi said. "So far we've used him once long, but I wouldn't be afraid to use him for a couple of innings if I needed him one day and I felt that it was a good time for him to pitch. So we'll try to use him different ways."

Girardi said that he would prefer to use Nova to start an inning, but the situation may dictate otherwise. Nova said that the uncertainty of his situation has not been easy, but he is trying to keep a positive mindset while enjoying his time with the other relievers in the bullpen.

"I'm sure that it's not going to be the whole year. I'm sure," Nova said. "Right now, I take it like a little vacation. You're pitching when the starter gets in trouble. My goal is to do my part, do my job, and whenever they tell me I've got the ball for that day, you just be prepared for that situation."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.