Outlook: Nova's starting spot in jeopardy in 2013

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Ivan Nova has been trying to work on making his arm action shorter this spring. While the Yankees' right-hander has seen some good results, it is still very much a work in progress.

"We keep working on that, and we're getting better," Nova said. "I've been throwing my balls with [a] better angle, and that's something positive. Like I say, I feel good."

Nova allowed four runs in five innings on Sunday, as the Yankees defeated the Pirates, 11-9, at McKechnie Field. Nova pitched three scoreless innings before the Pirates put up three runs in the fourth, as Pedro Alvarez, Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider picked up RBIs.

Clint Barmes added a solo home run off Nova in the fifth on a fastball that he left over the middle of the plate. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Nova left some pitches up, but also said Nova showed a good curveball in Sunday's start, in which he walked one and struck out four.

"Any time you make an adjustment, it takes some time to get used to," Girardi said. "The only way to get better in this game is, a lot of times, you have to make adjustments and eventually it becomes second nature."

Nova said he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild are essentially using the shorter arm action from his curveball and expanding it to his other pitches. Nova is 1-0 with a 3.29 ERA in four spring starts, but said he isn't concerned with proving to the Yankees that he belongs in the rotation.

"Like I always say, for me, I don't think I've got to show [that]," Nova said. "I've got to just pitch my game, do the best that I can out there and they're going to make the decision. Even if I pitch good or not, it's their decision. It's not mine."

Yankees release outfielder Diaz

NYY@HOU: Diaz hits RBI single to put Yankees on top

BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Yankees have released outfielder Matt Diaz, trimming a contender from their spring search for a right-handed bat.

Diaz, 35, hit .200 (6-for-30) with no extra-base hits and two RBIs in 13 spring games for New York.

Following injuries to Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira during the spring, the Yankees have been hunting for outfielders cast off from other camps. They signed both left-handed hitting Brennan Boesch and right-handed hitting Ben Francisco last week.

"We just thought the other guys were a little bit ahead of [Diaz], and [we wanted] to be fair to him and [allow him to] have a chance to catch on somewhere else," manager Joe Girardi said.

A career .291 hitter over 10 big league seasons, Diaz hit .222 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 51 games for the Braves last season.

Diaz entered camp competing directly with veteran Juan Rivera to serve as a starting outfielder or designated-hitter option against left-handed pitching. Because of Teixeira's injury, the Yankees are considering having Rivera play first base instead. But Girardi said that it is too soon to say any decisions have been made.

"Is it clearer?" Girardi said. "Maybe one piece is gone, but it's still going to play out -- probably for the next two weeks."

Martin has 'no regrets' about how things turned out

NYY@BAL Gm1: Martin's clutch homer puts Yanks up late

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Standing outside his new clubhouse, outfitted in yellow and black, Russell Martin said he has "no regrets" about the way things worked out over the offseason, though the former Yankees catcher admits to still being a little surprised that he isn't wearing pinstripes this spring.

Martin has settled in nicely as a veteran voice behind the plate for the Pirates, who gave him a two-year, $17 million deal this past winter -- one that the Yankees said they could not match. Martin said he understands the business side of the game, but he was open to coming back to New York.

"It's disappointing because of the guys," Martin said. "I was a part of that team, the overall atmosphere. But it's mostly the people that were there: the coaches, the players -- that's what I'm going to miss more than anything."

Martin said that there are no hard feelings between him and the Yankees, and that he has been having a good time getting to know the Pirates.

"It's a different atmosphere, a younger team, so because of that it's a bit different," Martin said. "It's a good group of guys, too. I'm enjoying myself. It's still baseball; just less media."

The Yankees did make Martin a contract offer last spring, believed to be three years at $20 million. But Martin said he had no second thoughts about turning down that proposed extension.

"There's no regrets, that's all I can say," Martin said. "I have no regrets. I am where I am. I'm happy, and I'm just ready to take on the season and see what happens."

From the outside looking in, Martin said that the Yankees appear to be facing "an uphill battle" in the American League East, with a different bench and numerous injuries. He does not think that the Yankees will have any issues with their pitching staff or the planned catching tandem of Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart.

"Both those guys can catch. I like both of them," Martin said. "I learned some stuff from Stewart last year -- just on how quick he is, first of all, just throwing the ball to second base, and how quick his hands are. His game calling is really good, his receiving [is] really good.

"So defensively, both those guys have got a lot of upside. Offensively, they don't have the most power in the world, but that's not the most important part of the game. Taking care of the pitchers is what's going to get you to the playoffs, and I think they're going to do a fine job."

Bombers bits

• Boone Logan (sore left elbow) should have time to pitch in Grapefruit League games before the Yankees break camp, according to Girardi. But the skipper is not as certain about Clay Rapada (left shoulder bursitis).

Girardi said that he does not necessarily need to start the season with two left-handers in the bullpen, because pitchers like Mariano Rivera, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain are accustomed to getting left-handers out.

• Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run homer and Melky Mesa added a grand slam in Sunday's victory. Outfielder Brennan Bosch stroked his first two hits in a Yankees uniform, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.