After growing up together in the New York Yankees minor league system, pitcher Ivan Nova and catcher Jesus Montero were separated this past offseason when Montero was shipped to the Seattle Mariners for out-for-2012 right-handed starter Michael Pineda.
Nova always imagined Montero, who hit a solo home run to right in Seattle's 6-2 loss to New York at Yankee Stadium on Friday, making offensive contributions during his starts at the professional level.
Now they're American League foes.
"I played with Montero for like five years [in the minors]; it's kind of weird," Nova told Yahoo! Contributor Network in the Yankees clubhouse Friday night. "You play with him, you have a chance to pitch, him catching you almost every time in the minor leagues, and now you see him in another uniform. It feels weird, but that's the game."
Three of Montero's four homers on the 2011 season after the Yankees called him up last September were hit at home, and all of those landed in the right field stands.
"He gets that ball in the outside corner, he can drive it to right field, he's gonna hit a homer," Nova said.
"All the time, my approach is thinking to right field, trying to hit the ball to right field all the time," Montero, speaking to YCN, said after driving in four runs on an RBI single, two-run double and solo homer in New York's 9-1 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sept. 24, 2011. "Sometimes it's not going to happen, but I was thinking that way because that's the way I learned how to hit in the Yankees [minor league system]; that's the way how they teach me."
When I asked Nova if he'd gotten a chance to speak to Montero before the Mariners-Yankees series opener on Friday, he said, "No, because all my studying inside and my workout; I stayed inside doing my stuff.
"But tomorrow (Saturday) I will see him, for sure," Nova added.
Nova will not start in New York's weekend series vs. Seattle, so he hasn't any idea what it'll be like to face his former teammate for the first time.
"When I face him? I can't tell you right now," he said. "I gotta see when that moment comes."
In his short-lived stint as a Yankee last season, Montero hit .328 with four home runs and 12 RBIs over 61 at-bats. Thus far in 2012 for Seattle, the 22-year-old is hitting .267 with five homers and 17 RBIs.
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