Detroit Tigers' Ivan Nova on quick return to MLB action: 'Never hold anything back'
Detroit Tigers right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova doesn't like store-bought pitching mounds.
He doesn't trust them and can't get comfortable. Thus, he wouldn't throw off them during baseball's COVID-19 hiatus.
Because of this, he didn't pitch much while quarantining in Miami for nearly four months. Instead, the 33-year-old veteran, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Tigers in January, found an accessible gym.
"I did throw a lot of flat ground," he said, "so that's going to help a little bit."
More free-agent signees:What C.J. Cron has learned from Miguel Cabrera: He's 'unbelievable'
In June, Nova got the call to head to Comerica Park. It's a park he had visited before, with eight combined appearances with the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox, but never called home. In 42⅔ innings at Comerica, Nova had a 5.70 ERA with a 1.594 WHIP.
But now, rather than face the Tigers, he'd be wearing the Old English D. He wasn't worried about how many games were on the schedule — he just wanted to play ball, even though this season will be much different.
Now that Nova's in town, he is focused on building his stamina as July 24's season opener looms. He said he doubts pitchers will have enough time to prepare to throw seven or eight innings immediately.
Still, that's the goal for the Tigers in intrasquad games and live pitching scenarios in summer camp. The plan, pitching coach Rick Anderson said, is for the starters to be ready for 100 pitches when the season begins.
Nova is penciled in for about 12 starts this season. Last year, he went 11-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 34 starts for the White Sox while allowing a league-high 225 hits with a 114-to-47 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
"You never hold anything back when you got 33 (starts) or when you got 12," he said. "So you got to put everything (out there) from the get-go."
In the meantime, the Tigers' pitchers will get their reps against teammates, as the Tigers don't face another team until exhibition games July 21-22 against the Cincinnati Reds.
That doesn't bother Nova.
"No matter who you got out there," he said, "if he's a teammate or another team, the right mentality is to approach it like a real game."
After all, he's just excited baseball is back, coronavirus or not.
"I respect anyone's opinion about their decision, what they want to do," Nova said. "I mean, if you take the protocol the way you're supposed to take it and you take care of yourself how you're supposed to take care of yourself, then you're going to be fine."