TAMPA, Fla. — An ineffective Ivan Nova finished 2015 in the bullpen, but the pitcher has no desire to be there in 2016.
“I’m a starting pitcher, I’m not a reliever,” Nova said after a workout Thursday morning at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “But it’s their decision, and whatever they tell me to do that’s what I gotta do.”
The always affable 29-year-old Nova, coming off Tommy John surgery, had a mostly lousy season, going 6-11 with a 5.07 ERA. He lost his spot in the rotation in September and regaining it will be a challenge.
Entering spring training the righthander is behind Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia on the depth chart.
“Whatever they decide to do is what we’re going to,” Nova said. “You’re always competing. That’s one of the exciting parts. That’s what I like. To compete.”
And, most important, to pitch well, something that Nova hasn’t done consistently as a Yankee.
“My career hasn’t been like a lot of people maybe wanted it to be, having a good year every year,” said Nova, stressing, as he did last year, his poor season had nothing to do with coming back from Tommy John surgery. “I had some good moments, some bad moments. But like I said, that’s in the past. I feel good enough to compete and good enough to do a good job.”
Besides pride, Nova has a financial incentive to do well. He’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
“Whatever they decide to do with me I think the main thing to do is help the team win games, that’s what matters,” Nova said. “We want a championship. And I’m a free agent after this year. ... If I leave the Yankees one day, hopefully I never leave the Yankees, but if I leave the Yankees one day, I want to leave with a championship. That’s the goal.”