Optimistic Nova: ‘I don’t feel any pain’ in surgically repaired elbow

Written By kom nampuldu on Rabu, 11 Februari 2015 | 18.18

TAMPA — Matt Harvey isn't the only right-hander anticipating a return to New York this season from Tommy John surgery.

While the Mets' star pitcher continues his comeback under a bright spotlight, the Yankees' Ivan Nova hopes to start throwing off a mound "soon" and be back in the rotation by June.

"To be honest, I feel right now like nothing happened," Nova said Tuesday at the Yankees minor league complex, where he's been rehabbing from last April's procedure. "I don't feel any pain. I don't feel any tightness. I can do motions and lifting without any problem."

He's advanced to throwing at 120 feet, typically the last step before getting on a mound. And Nova is confident that whenever he does rejoin the rotation, he'll be an improved pitcher from the one he was before the injury.

"I hope I can be better than what I was," Nova said. "That's the goal."

He might need to be if the Yankees intend to compete for the AL East title.
Nova will soon be joined this spring by Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia, who will both come to camp with health concerns. Michael Pineda, no model of durability, is already here.

While Tanaka, Sabathia and Pineda are expected to be in the rotation Opening Day, Nova will have to wait some more; it typically takes at least 12 months before pitchers are ready to return to action following Tommy John surgery.

The 28-year-old should be entering his prime, but his career has been anything but predictable.

Following a strong first full season in the majors in 2011, Nova hasn't been able to put together a consistent complete year.

His ERA ballooned to 5.02 in 2012 before bouncing back in 2013, going 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA, including a 2.69 ERA over his final 12 starts. But he was shut down after only four starts last season.

"Last year wasn't really a good beginning," Nova said. "I didn't really have a chance to heat up. The way I finished up 2013, I have to go with the same mind-set: aggressive."

Of his four outings a season ago, three were subpar.

And both he and the Yankees would like better luck in 2015, after Nova's season was interrupted by the elbow injury, while Sabathia and Tanaka missed significant chunks of time after getting hurt, as well.

But Nova will have to be patient.

"I know it's not time yet," Nova said of his anticipated return. "I'm trying not to rush. … I was joking with [pitcher Jose] Ramirez that the way I feel, I can pitch right now. But I've got to understand I have to take it easy."

He also is adjusting to life after Derek Jeter, who was a regular at the complex by this time every year.

"He always was the first one to get here and you would see that presence," Nova said. "It's like the year after Mariano [Rivera] retired. You looked to that locker and see David Robertson instead of Rivera. … It's a little weird, but you get used to it."

Kind of like the impending arrival of Alex Rodriguez.

"He's a teammate and you've got to treat teammates with respect," Nova said. "Personally, I'm gonna treat him the same way I've always treated him. He has been a good teammate to me."

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