BRADENTON, Fla. — Ivan Nova is “good to go.”
That’s what he said after his four-inning outing at LECOM Park against Minnesota on Monday. Nova allowed three hits and one run — a Miguel Sano home run — while striking out six Twins.
The Sano home run came on a hanging curveball that was the only blip on an otherwise sparkling outing.
“He used his pitches very effectively tonight, changing speeds, burying the breaking ball with the exception of the one he left up,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “Using the two-seamer in, the come-backer to left-handers over the inside part of the plate. He’s a pro with a slow heartbeat.”
Catcher Jacob Stallings said that he barely had to move his glove. Nova used a lot of breaking balls, including throwing three straight curves to Sano. He said that was the plan going into the start.
“A lot of times, we do get quick outs with the sinkers,” Nova said. “In spring training, you want to make sure you get everything working. It’s not quick outs with sinker, sinker, sinker. I want to be able to throw my sinker to both sides of the plate, my curveball for a strike when I need to and I also threw the changeup. All in all, it was a good workout.”
Nova also put down a bunt in his first at-bat. That’s something he’s been attempting to improve upon this spring after spending most of his career in the American League.
“He’s been working hard on his bunting and his swinging,” Hurdle said. “He didn’t get to do a lot of that in the American League. He gets a bunt down today and comes back with a smile on.”
FRAZIER UP TOP
Adam Frazier went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs. He’s now hitting .400 this spring and he’s hitting leadoff again on Tuesday against the Red Sox. Hurdle said that’s where he’ll be slotted in the batting order when he’s in the lineup this season, but wouldn’t commit to how often that will be.
“We’ll definitely have him in the lineup, when he’s playing, up top,” Hurdle said. “I haven’t hit him anywhere but leadoff this spring.”
Rule 5 draftee Tyler Webb threw three innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts. Two things stood out about his performance — the length and the fact that he was equally effective against right-handers and left-handers.
“I love the way he’s shown up and competed,” Hurdle said. “He’s a guy that has no major league experience. He’s done all his pitching in the minor leagues. Tonight I thought was the best stuff we’ve seen from him all spring. … Our guys that do our analytic work liked him coming in and tonight, I think he got the attention of some people that thought he was just here on a whim. He did some pitching tonight.”
Webb’s performance puts some pressure on the bullpen decision, but fellow lefty Wade LeBlanc has also been pitching well. I asked Webb what he thought about the Pirates potentially swinging a trade to keep him around if he can’t make the 25-man roster.
“I wouldn’t oppose it at all,” he said. “I’m kind of in between two very good organizations. I’m just going to try to pitch as well as I can and worry about that stuff when it comes, but I’m in a pretty good spot.”
Nova will not make the trip to Montreal, instead meeting the team in Boston in order to stay in Florida and throw in a game at Pirate City on Sunday. Drew Hutchison will pitch Tuesday night at LECOM Park. Gerrit Cole will pitch there Wednesday afternoon in an abbreviated outing.