Nova allowed six hits and five runs in 2 2-3 innings of the New York Yankees' 6-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
"I thought he got in bad counts.That was the difference," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "When he got behind, they hit it. We talk about the importance of being able to pitch ahead, and I think that's why we talk about it.
"He kind of lost command of the fastball and he got behind and when he had to throw a strike they didn't miss it," Girardi added. "These guys are getting ready to compete, in a sense. We saw some velocity out of him today, saw some 95s today."
Girardi was more worried about his setup man David Robertson, who sprained a foot when he stumbled on stairs while moving empty boxes at his home, and the team sounded worried there might be a significant injury to the All-Star reliever.
Instead of making his second spring training appearance, Robertson made two trips to a hospital for X-rays, an MRI and CT scan.
"The initial tests that he took gave us some cause for concern," Girardi said. "We're not sure what's going on."
Adam Lind opened the second inning for Toronto against Nova with a double to left-centre field, took third on Brett Lawrie's single and scored on Colby Rasmus' grounder. Then with a brisk wind blowing out to left field J.P. Arencibia launched a drive for a home run.
"Something I'm doing out there (isn't right). Probably mechanics," Nova said. "Got to be something a little bit off. ... I feel really good. The velocity is there. My arm feels good. My body feels good. I'm working hard. I've just got to keep fighting. I know it's early in spring training. I know the location will be there, hopefully next start.
The Blue Jays added two runs in the third. Kelly Johnson, Jose Bautista and Lind singled off Nova for one, and Bautista scored on a passed ball by Francisco Cervelli on David Phelps' first pitch in relief.
Travis Snider hit Cesar Cabral's first pitch in the sixth inning for his second spring home run and Colin Curtis homered off Chad Beck for the Yankees in the ninth.
In two innings Brett Cecil allowed one hit in his second spring start, one of seven Blue Jays pitchers who combined to scatter eight hits. Still, Cecil wasn't pleased with his performance because a lot of his pitches were high.
"If they're good mistakes where they can't hit them out, that's fine," Cecil said. "I felt that was where most of them were, up and out of the zone and I can deal with that. I can deal with a walk here and there (he had one to go with one strikeout). When I needed the ball down I got the ball down, but I still have a little fine-tuning to do."
Cecil's pitches last season reached 92-93 mph. He lost about 30 pounds during the off-season, getting down to 215, and his speed dropped a bit with it, to about 87 mph Thursday.
"I have to find a way to get it done," he said. "I did the whole worrying-about-it thing last year and I don't want to do that this year. I know I can get guys out at 85 mph or at 92; it just depends on location. I can get guys out at this level. I don't need a number to tell me that."
NOTES: The Yankees' Freddy Garcia will make his second spring start Friday against visiting Atlanta while Henderson Alvarez will start for the Blue Jays against J.A. Happ and the Astros at Kissimmee.