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Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Morning Notes: Nova's turn

By Wallace Matthews

TAMPA, Fla. -- Since Florida is closer to the equator and Tampa is further west than New York, it was absolutely pitch-black here at 7:30 a.m. now that we've switched over to Daylight Savings Time. Just thought you'd like to know. Here are the highlights from this morning's session with Joe Girardi:

NOUVEAU NOVA: The manager says he has seen an improvement in Ivan Nova's command ever since he made a slight adjustment in his motion this spring. He also hinted that Nova may have come to camp last year a little complacent after his excellent 2011 season, in which he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA. Nova, locked into a battle with David Phelps for the No. 5 starter's job, needs a good effort today against the Rays in Port Charlotte to stay even.

I LEFT MY HEART: With Ben Francisco. Not really, but the newest Yankee seemed like an extremely pleasant fellow in his first meeting with the beat crew this morning. The Yankees had expressed an interest in Francisco, who spent time with three clubs last season, over the winter but the 31-year-old OF chose to sign with Cleveland. However, after the Indians signed Michael Bourn, Francisco decided he would have a better chance here after all, so he requested and recieved his release. Now, he's in the mix with the half-dozen or so veterans and rookies vying to win a spot in the Yankees OF while Curtis Granderson recovers from his broken arm.

AUSTIN WHO?: One of the surprises of camp so far has got to be the early departure of Austin Romine, who some considered a dark-horse candidate to win the backup catcher's job. But Romine got only eight at-bats, and two singles, and was reassigned yesterday to Triple-A Scranton. It means either Romine's stock dropped in this camp, or the Yankees saw something more in Bobby Wilson, who is still here and who has received praise from most of the starting pitchers he has worked with so far.

EARLY START: The start time for Saturday's game here against the Phillies has been moved up an hour, from 1:05 p.m. to 12:05 p.m., to accommodate a Kenny Chesney concert later in the day across the street at Raymond James Stadium. If you've ever driven on Dale Mabry Hwy. during rush hour, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Off to Port Charlotte now. Talk to you later.