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Nova delivers against former team

Righty says it was 'a little weird' facing his former teammates
MLB.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Ivan Nova signed with the Yankees in July 2004, 11 months before they drafted an outfielder named Brett Gardner. They were teammates in New York from the time Nova made his debut in 2010 until Pittsburgh acquired the right-hander last summer.

So, of course there was going to be some friendly back-and-forth when Gardner led off the Pirates' 13-1 win over the Yankees at LECOM Park.

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Ivan Nova signed with the Yankees in July 2004, 11 months before they drafted an outfielder named Brett Gardner. They were teammates in New York from the time Nova made his debut in 2010 until Pittsburgh acquired the right-hander last summer.

So, of course there was going to be some friendly back-and-forth when Gardner led off the Pirates' 13-1 win over the Yankees at LECOM Park.

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"He was making fun of me in the first inning, taking longer than ever to get up to the box and make me feel uncomfortable," Nova said, smiling. "You step off a couple times, give him his time. Then I came back and he was still outside, and when he was working into the box, I stepped back.

"We were doing it at my pace, not your pace."

Video: NYY@PIT: Nova strikes out Judge swinging

Nova admitted it felt "a little weird" facing his former teammates. Nova, 30, spent more than a decade in the Yankees' organization. The added emotion may have affected him in the first inning, when he lacked the command that enabled his turnaround in Pittsburgh.

Overall, Nova allowed one run on two hits and a walk and struck out two in three innings. He settled down in the second and endured an eventful third inning that included two errors and two wild pitches on his part.

The first error came on a comebacker hit by Gardner that deflected off Nova's right hand and chest. He had his palm wrapped in ice after the game, but said he wasn't worried about it.

"Everything's good," he said.

Video: NYY@PIT: Searage on Nova's outing, starting rotation

Around the horn

• Nova was called out on strikes in the second inning, the first plate appearance for a Pirates pitcher this spring.

"First time this year," he said. "You're hitting off the machine every day, coming hard at you, but it's not the same when you're trying to pick up a pitcher's arm action."

• Catcher Chris Stewart will make his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday against the Braves at LECOM Park. Stewart has been eased into Spring Training following September knee surgery, sitting out the first week and a half of spring games, but still catching bullpens and participating in drills.

Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison left camp on Monday to join Team USA in Fort Myers, Fla. Francisco Cervelli (Italy) and Eric Wood (Canada) departed on Sunday. Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte had a much shorter trip, as the Dominican Republic's World Baseball Classic squad is practicing across town at Pirate City.

• With Harrison and the starting outfield away on Monday, Adam Frazier started in right field with Chris Bostick at second base, Barrett Barnes in left field and Austin Meadows in center. Alen Hanson, competing for a spot on the bench, backed up Jordy Mercer at shortstop while Gift Ngoepe subbed in at second base. Erich Weiss, who replaced David Freese at third, went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Ivan Nova