KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- It was more about the finish for Ivan Nova on Saturday, as the Yankees right-hander settled in after a shaky beginning to complete four innings of work.
Nova said that he had to adjust after the Astros hit him hard in the first frame, highlighted by Jason Castro's two-run double. Nova also allowed a second-inning RBI single to Cesar Izturis before clamping the damage.
"I kept my ball down a little bit better," Nova said. "My four-seamer wasn't cutting. In the first [inning], I couldn't keep it straight. I was trying to stay a little bit more on the mound and not go toward first base. I was doing that the first inning, before I finished the pitch, going to first base. Not good.
"That's not me. I asked [catcher Francisco] Cervelli, 'How am I looking? Am I going straight?' I got a little more aggressive."
Nova allowed three runs and eight hits over four innings, with no walks and five strikeouts. He threw 38 of 54 pitches for strikes.
"You look at his outings so far, they've been pretty easy," manager Joe Girardi said. "Today I thought was a good outing because he found it. He struggled in the first inning finding some sink and finding his curveball, and I thought he did a good job of finding himself, giving us four innings and really not throwing a ton of pitches."
Banuelos pleased with first outing post surgery
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- The nerves evaporated for Manny Banuelos once his first warmup pitch landed in the catcher's glove on Saturday, and the left-handed prospect left the mound thrilled by his first game action since Tommy John surgery.
Coming back from the October 2012 procedure, Banuelos worked two-thirds of the fifth inning of the Yankees' Grapefruit League game against the Astros, a 9-6 win. He allowed two hits, including a three-run homer to Chris Carter, but said that he was pleased by how his arm felt.
"I'm very happy," Banuelos said. "The [outcome] was not like I wanted, but the best thing is I feel healthy. I felt very strong in that inning. I got two outs, but for being the first time after surgery and for two years, that's awesome for me."
Banuelos, who turns 23 later this month, was thought to be on the cusp of making it to the big leagues in 2011, advancing as far as Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He made just six starts in 2012 before requiring surgery. Banuelos is ranked as the Yankees' No. 8 prospect entering this season, according to MLB.com.
"I know that he's been working so hard because we were together at the [Minor League] complex," catcher Francisco Cervelli said. "I know the frustration and everything. He was so good. He had the speed, he just needs confidence and he'll be back."
Banuelos said that he was told his fastball hit 93 mph on Saturday, which was a pleasant surprise to him; Banuelos estimated that it would be 89 or 90 mph at this point. Manager Joe Girardi said that Banuelos' arm strength was fine.
"I heard my velocity was good. I heard that and I'm very happy for that," Banuelos said. "And I feel strong, so I've got to make adjustments for the pitches, but I can feel almost like before."
He allowed a leadoff double to Jose Altuve down the third-base line and issued a walk to Jason Castro before leaving a changeup up to Carter, who slugged a blast over the left-field wall.
After a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Banuelos shrugged off the homer and struck out Marc Krauss before completing his outing by inducing a Jesus Guzman groundout.
"This is the best thing. I worked for this, to get back on the mound," Banuelos said. "Now I'm back, so [I'll] just keep working hard and forget the past."
Teixeira continues to 'knock off rust'
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Mark Teixeira had another day of positive signs for the Yankees on Saturday, slugging a double and working a walk in New York's 9-6 Grapefruit League victory over the Astros.
Teixeira's two-base hit came right-handed, facing southpaw Darin Downs. Teixeira said that the only things he has not tested with his surgically repaired right wrist are swinging and missing and check-swings.
"I really am knocking off rust," said Teixeira, who finished 1-for-2 and played four innings at first base. "Two days ago, it was just being out there. You're not used to covering first base, going after foul balls and coming in on bunts, stuff like that.
"I'm just continuing to knock off some rust, get my legs in shape, get my swing in shape, try and see a lot of pitches. I'm glad I saw a walk today; that was a good step for me, just seeing pitches. Hopefully, I'll continue to do that."
Teixeira said that he expects to have more than enough swings to knock all of his rust off before Opening Day.
"I don't want to try to overdo things in Spring Training and then physically not be ready for the season," Teixeira said. "I'm going to go in and out of 10 slumps this year; that's just the way it is.
"What you want to do is physically, you want to feel really good coming out of Spring Training into Opening Day and get enough at-bats -- 50 or 55 at-bats -- to feel you're comfortable. That's what Spring Training is about, getting your body ready for a long season."
• Kelly Johnson is scheduled to start at first base on Sunday when the Yankees entertain the Rays in a 1:05 p.m. ET contest at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Johnson has played three big league games at first base in his career, but said he recently got some tips about the position from Teixeira.
"It would be a lot weirder if I was a little bit younger, a little bit newer in the game," Johnson said. "I've been around just enough to feel a little more comfortable in doing it and handling it."
• Yankees infielder Brendan Ryan will be sidelined until at least the middle of next week with what Girardi has described as a lower back or oblique issue.
"We think he'll be fine next week," Girardi said. "The MRIs came out good, so we think he'll be fine. We're probably being a little cautious because we can."
• Girardi thought about testing the new replay system during Saturday's game when Brett Gardner was robbed of a fifth-inning hit by right fielder George Springer.
Girardi huddled with the umpires to discuss the play, and while there was no official review, their discussion was long enough for Girardi to hear from his dugout that replays showed Springer had caught the ball.
"I'm not going to challenge just to challenge," Girardi said. "That doesn't make a lot of sense to me, because you're not going to do that during the season. I want to do what we're going to do during the season."