Ivan Nova first heard the news from Yankees bullpen catcher Roman Rodriguez as he was running out on the field, but he didn’t think it was true.
“I didn’t believe him,” he said, “until I saw my name on TV.”
And just like that, Nova — who has spent his entire professional career in the Yankees’ organization — learned that he was heading to the Pirates from an MLB Network blurb on Monday. So goes the business of baseball and so too goes Nova, who never quite lived up to his promise but will get another shot in another city, surrounded by a number of players he considers friends.
“This is the moment — you hear the talks and everything — I knew at some point was going to come,” said Nova, 29, who was signed by the Yankees in 2004 and made his debut in 2010. “We forced the organization to do what it had to do today and in the last couple days. To go to another organization that’s in the race is exciting.”
Nova, who is 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA this year, joins his friends, fellow Dominicans Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. He’ll also join former Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli. At the time, he thought he’d have his old pal Francisco Liriano as a teammate, too, but Liriano got traded to the Blue Jays while Nova was getting sent to the Pirates.
“I’m looking forward to meeting my new team and have fun over there,” he said before adding that he hadn’t actually heard from Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi yet. “I didn’t pick up my phone yet,” he said with a slight smile.
He finally checked his phone a few minutes later as the TV played nearby. Nova scrolled while the TV commentator gave his analysis. “What Brian Cashman has done,” the TV said, “I’m blown away by it.”
The Yankees called up pitcher Nick Goody and outfielder Ben Gamel to take the spot of Nova and Carlos Beltran on the roster. The changes, though, probably are temporary, Cashman said. “We need a starter for Wednesday” to replace Nova, he said, adding that Gamel and Goody were decisions made with the National League park in mind. Gamel’s sacrifice bunt in the 10th inning — Seth Lugo threw late to third on the play, loading the bases with none out and setting up Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly — helped the Yankees beat the Mets, 6-5 . . . Girardi said the Yankees’ losing — and even the thought of needing to rebuild under his watch — has taken its toll on him. “You put the uniform on to win championships,’’ he said, “and I don’t care how well we do — if we make the playoffs, get to the American League championships and we lose — when you don’t win, it’s hard. It’s hard for me. I don’t watch the playoffs on TV if we’re not in it.” . . . Though Beltran said he loved playing in New York, there are no hard feelings in his departure, he said. “I don’t blame anybody except we didn’t do our jobs as players,” he said. “We didn’t really play consistent baseball. We didn’t really give management a reason to keep us together.”