TORONTO -- Russell Martin was glad to be back home in Canada for a mini two-game set in Toronto. The Yankees backstop was born in East York, Ont., and grew up in the province of Quebec.
"The only reason I like it now is because more family comes and watches me play," Martin said about coming back to Toronto. "That's really the main thing, I think it's cool. Toronto doesn't feel like home, Montreal feels like home. Toronto is one of my favorite places to travel to. Not because it's Canada, it's because I like the city."
Martin left 15 tickets for friends and family for Thursday's series finale against the Blue Jays. He spent Wednesday catching up with some friends and family when he wasn't on the diamond.
"I saw my dad and my best buddy who is out here," Martin said. "We got some Starbucks and kicked it a little bit."
Despite the good feeling of being back in his home country, Martin knows he and his teammates must start playing better baseball. The 29-year-old entered Thursday batting just .172 with three homers, nine RBIs and a .632 OPS.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks he is going to come around, but he doesn't want him putting too much pressure on himself at the plate because of the additional responsibilities he has behind the dish.
"I think he's been fairly patient at the plate, he's taking his walks," Girardi said. "It seems like when he hits the ball well, someone is standing there. ... He's been out in front of balls at times, closed off.
"I think preventing runs is the most important part of being a catcher. I believe he's going to hit and turn it around for us."
Martin, meanwhile, knows his Yankees are in an American League East division that seems to be even better this season based on the early success the Orioles and Blue Jays are enjoying. He's not worried, however, about how the Yankees will fare in the long run.
"I think that we have a good team," Martin said. "It's a long season, there are times where you are going to get beat. The Blue Jays swing the bat very well, and it's a strong division.
"For my last two years, it's always been that way. We are used to it, though. We know it's going to be a tough battle all the way through. I think everybody knows that, nobody is surprised. Any team can beat anyone any given night, you just have to fight for it."
Nova expects to start vs. Reds on Saturday
TORONTO -- Ivan Nova was scheduled to throw a bullpen session in Toronto on Thursday and expects to make his next start in the Bronx against the Reds on Saturday.
"If I can push, I can pitch, but I feel good like this," Nova said, referring to pushing off the mound on his sprained right ankle.
Nova was not sure how many pitches he was going to throw during his bullpen but expected it to be a normal routine.
"After the day that I pitched [last], I wasn't sure," Nova said about making his next start. "[But] they have really taken care of my ankle, and it's really good right now."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has a more cautious outlook on his 25-year-old right-hander.
"We aren't going to really know until we see how he feels tomorrow," Girardi said.
Girardi still considers Nova a game-time decision for Saturday, but all indications are he will be ready to throw the second of a three-game Interleague set with Cincinnati.
"I think you have to let him warm up," Girardi said. "If he says all of a sudden that it's hurting him when he's warming up, you are probably going to have to say, 'Wait a couple.'"
Nova is 4-1 with a 5.44 ERA through seven starts this season.
Girardi confident Yankees will turn on power
TORONTO -- Derek Jeter was not supposed to be one of New York's biggest sources of power this season, yet, entering Thursday's finale in Toronto, his .936 OPS was tops on the Yankees.
Main sources of power and middle-of-the-order threats in Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are off to slow starts. They've each hit as many homers as Jeter, the leadoff batter, and have an OPS below .800.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, however, is fully confident his team will turn it around.
"I think we know who we are, I don't think we have played up to our abilities," Girardi said. "We've had some really good days, and then we have had days where we haven't pitched as well, swung the bats as well. I think the biggest thing we are lacking right now is consistency.
"These guys are pros, they know what they're doing -- you expect them to come around. The players are here, it's just playing to your ability."
Girardi said that players tend to hit in bunches, which is why he isn't going to make a panic move this early and make any drastic changes to the lineup.
"Hitters are going to go through their peaks and valleys," he said. "If you try to time it, it's like trying to time the market. It can be dangerous. You're also managing personalities and egos. These guys have done it before. You have to be patient. This is a game [where] you have to be patient, because it's every day."
The Yankees entered Thursday three games above .500 and four games out of the top spot in the division. While a lot of other teams in the league would like to be in that position, Girardi understands that in New York the expectations are heightened and the questions are more frequent.
"This is New York, right," Girardi said. "People want answers. It's not hard, I have probably got kind of used to it."
The Yankees acquired infielder Matt Antonelli off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles and, to make room on their 40-man roster, moved Cesar Cabral to the 60-day disabled list.
Antonelli, who was batting .204 with one homer and seven RBIs in the International League, will report to Triple-A Scranton.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.