Monday, March 12, 2012
Hangin': A.J's lesson from Nova to Pineda
By Andrew Marchand
Ivan Nova's best buddy on the team had always been A.J. Burnett. For all the flaws of Burnett's Yankee career, a small part of his legacy could be the influence he had on Nova.
While Burnett struggled with his confidence, he stressed the importance of it to Nova. The focus on believing in himself is what Nova believes propelled him to his breakout 16-4 season.
With Burnett gone, CC Sabathia asked Nova, "What are you going to do now?'
"I'm going to be close with you now," Nova told Sabathia.
Sabathia could inherit the big brother role from Burnett, but Nova could be the one passing on the advice to his fellow Dominican, the shy Michael Pineda.
"We are getting really close here," Nova said.
Nova, 25, is explaining what it means to be a Yankee and how to handle yourself. Pineda has confided in Nova about the overwhelming feeling of seeing 11-plus reporters waiting for him after a spring outing compared to one or two in Seattle.
"He said he doesn't like to talk," Nova said.
Something that can't be underestimated is the difficulty of speaking a second language to a bunch of reporters. If you are quiet to begin with, it can add to a transition that is already laced with expectations.
"It is hard," Nova said. "Everyone is watching what you are doing. You have to be careful every time."
After Nova would appear in games, he used to be nervous talking to the media. His mother would tape his interviews off YES and the two would go through them like they were Siskel & Ebert.
"She would say, 'You look good today. You look relaxed," Nova recalled.
Nova felt like he took another leap during the playoffs when the New York media and the national media were in front of him for his pre-start press conference.
"When I had the press conference for the playoffs, I was nervous," Nova said. "Not for the game, but for the press conference. ... A lot of people don't understand when you have 20 people with 15 cameras in front of you, you get nervous."
Now, he is trying to calm Pineda's nerves.
"I tell him the same thing that those guys told me before, that A.J. told me," Nova said. "Don't get pressure with the media. It doesn't matter if you had a bad day. If you have a bad today you have to show up and talk to them."
It is part of the learning for Pineda. Nova is trying to be a good teammate, just as Burnett was for him.