Ivan Nova not nervous for Game 5 start

Updated: October 6, 2011, 8:25 AM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

DETROIT -- With the season on the line at Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees rookie Ivan Nova thinks he will be calm for his start in Thursday night's decisive Game 5.

"I don't usually get nervous," Nova said after the Yankees stayed alive with their 10-1 demolition of the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALDS on Tuesday night. "I just have fun."

Nova, 24, said he slept fine before his playoff "start" in Game 1 when he entered in relief of the suspended game.

He will be matched up again against Tigers righty Doug Fister. After a 16-4 season and 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in Game 1, manager Joe Girardi has full confidence in Nova.

However, the Yankees will have their entire bullpen ready to be used. CC Sabathia, who started on Monday, told ESPNNewYork.com that he will be available out of the bullpen on what would normally be his throw day.

"I'm definitely available," Sabathia said.

With a day off, all of the Yankees' vital relievers will be rested. Setup man David Robertson has only pitched one inning in the series, while Mariano Rivera has thrown three pitches. Rafael Soriano pitched for a second consecutive day on Tuesday. Soriano has thrown three innings, but should be ready for Friday.

Nova will meet the media on Wednesday afternoon to formally discuss the start. Girardi wants to make Nova feel as comfortable as possible. Girardi interrupted Nova's interview session with a small group of reporters to pull him to the side and ask what time Nova wanted to come to the stadium.

At first, the affable Nova said whatever time that his manager wanted him there. Girardi then explained he wanted it to be the best time for Nova and they finally decided to move the media session from 2 p.m. ET to 3 p.m.

On Tuesday, Nova was a big cheerleader for Yankees starter A.J. Burnett. The two have formed a strong bond as the student (Nova) has moved past the mentor (Burnett) on the depth chart. Nova texted Burnett on Monday night and offered advice he usually hears from Burnett.

"I told him he just has to go out there and have fun," Nova said. "'Don't put no pressure on yourself."

That is what Nova plans to do as he pitches for a chance to send the Yankees to the American League Championship Series against the Texas Rangers.

"It is going to be fun," Nova said. "I just have to be confident and relaxed and do my job."

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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