NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte has retired, and there’s been an assumption, from afar, that this Yankees starting rotation just isn't the same.

That might be true, but Ivan Nova isn't the problem. He might be an unknown to most Twins fans, having faced Minnesota just once, in a one-inning relief appearance last May. But Nova was one of New York’s most impressive pitchers this spring, posting a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings, with nine strikeouts and four walks.

A 6-4 righthander from the Dominican Republic, Nova will face the Twins tonight in the opener of this four-game series at Yankee Stadium.

The Twins will counter with Scott Baker, who finished spring training strong after having a setback, coming off right elbow surgery, early in spring training. Baker posted a 2.66 ERA in 23 2/3 innings this spring, with 20 strikeouts and five walks.

Update: Manager Ron Gardenhire’s lineup has Jim Thome in the DH spot with Jason Kubel in right field and Michael Cuddyer on the bench.

Gardenhire said this has nothing to do with Cuddyer's health. The manager has been talking of using Thome to spell Kubel, Cuddyer, Justin Morneau and Delmon Young.

"Just trying to get Thome in there against the kid [Nova] and try to give Thome at-bats whenever I can," Gardenhire said.

Update: As expected, the Twins don't plan to use Joe Nathan after his 31-pitch save Sunday.

"I’m sure Nathan feels great, but we kind of have a plan with him, so I think [it’d be Matt] Capps at the end of the game today. I haven’t talked to Nathan about that, but when we call down there [to the bullpen], it won’t be his name."

TWINS (1-2)

1. Denard Span, CF
2. Tsuyoshi Nishioka, 2B
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Delmon Young, LF
6. Jim Thome, DH
7. Jason Kubel, RF
8. Danny Valencia, 3B
9. Alexi Casilla, SS

Starting pitcher: RH Scott Baker

YANKEES (2-1)

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Robinson Cano, 2B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Jorge Posada, DH
8. Curtis Granderson, CF
9. Russell Martin, C

Starting pitcher: RH Ivan Nova

Yankee Stadium. First pitch: 6:05 p.m. TV: FSN. Twins Radio Network

Older Post

Toronto's hecklers prep Span for New York's Bleacher Creatures

Newer Post

Morneau: Rust starting to come off