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Betances, Banuelos impress; Nova rocked

Trying to judge the ability of a hitter or pitcher on the basis of batting practice is about as accurate as judging how good a boxer is off a sparring session. You never know for sure what anyone is working on or what exactly they're trying to accomplish.

Recognizing that, I must dutifully report that rookies Dellin Betances, a 6-8 righty, and Manny Banuelos, a 5-10 lefty who is just 19 years old, were impressive pitching live BP to the regulars this afternoon while Ivan Nova, the second-year man who is the grizzled veteran of the group, got smacked around a little by a group that included Curtis Granderson and Justin Maxwell.

Afterward, Joe Girardi was full of praise for both of the kids, singling out their poise and command of their pitches. No mention was made of Nova, who is already pencilled in as the No. 4 starter. Meanwhile, both Betances and Banuelos are expected to start off with Double A Trenton. Banuelos, who doesn't turn 20 until March 13, was surprised to hear that but not quite prepared to fully accept it.

"Im just going to keep doing my work the way I been doing it,'' he said. "And who knows what's going to happen?''