New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi warms up before...

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi warms up before a spring training game against the Philadelphia Phillies at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., on March 3, 2015. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nathan Eovaldi knows about rivalries from his Miami and Los Angeles days.

"The Marlins and Braves, we kind of had one . . . Dodgers and Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Giants," he said.

Now Eovaldi is about to take his first step inside another rather fierce rivalry, the rivalry for the ages: Yankees vs. Red Sox.

"I'm looking forward to joining it," Eovaldi said before the Yankees' series finale against the Blue Jays Thursday night.

The 25-year-old righty is set to climb the small hill in the middle of Yankee Stadium Friday night, No. 30 on his pinstriped back, and pitch against Boston in his first regular-season start for his new team.

The Yankees imported some hard-throwing youth for their rotation on Dec. 19, acquiring Eovaldi in a five-player trade that sent Martin Prado to Miami.

"As a player, you usually hear about the trade coming up, and I didn't hear anything about it," Eovaldi said. "So when I found out the news, I was real excited."

His 2014 season was nothing to get excited about, not with the 6-14 record across 33 starts, the 4.37 ERA and so many hits allowed -- 223 of them in 1992/3 innings, the most allowed by a National League pitcher. There was raw ability there, though, and the Yankees took a shot that they could develop it.

Eovaldi flashed some hopeful signs in spring training: a 1.93 ERA in five outings and 20 strikeouts in 182/3 innings.

"I love the way he competes," Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, you love the power arm that he has, his ability to throw his curveball. I think his split got better as spring training went on. He's got a great arm. So when he locates it, you're not going to be able to do much with it."

The Dodgers drafted him in 2008 in the 11th round out of Alvin High in Alvin, Texas, the old home base of another No. 30 with a power arm, Nolan Ryan.

They brought up Eovaldi in 2011, then dealt him to the Marlins in July 2012 for Hanley Ramirez, who's now with Boston.

Eovaldi's career record stands at just 15-35, his ERA at 4.07. He also has allowed 484 hits and 150 walks in 460 innings for a subpar 1.38 WHIP.

But Miami pitching coach Chuck Hernandez got him to try a splitter late last season, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild has been working with Eovaldi on polishing it. As he attempts to finish off hitters, the splitter might be a better option than just trying to overpower them.

"I've always struggled throwing a regular changeup, changing my arm slot on it," Eovaldi said. "With the split, it's just line my fingers and throw it like a fastball."

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