After leaving his latest start with discomfort in his right elbow, an MRI has revealed a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament for New York Yankees starter Ivan Nova. The team placed him on the 15-day DL on Sunday morning. He’ll be further evaluated in New York on Monday by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad.
Nova had hardly been consistent during his early starts this season. He’d pitched well against Houston, got shelled against Baltimore, and then had his best game of the year against Boston in his last outing. The pattern continued on Saturday, but there hadn’t been any clue that he might be ailing physically before this latest start. The Rays hit Nova hard on Saturday, including hitting four home runs off him before Nova would leave the game in the 5th inning. His reaction while throwing his 82nd pitch of the game seems to be what set things in motion.
Brian McCann reportedly saw him wince on that last pitch. Tony Pena also saw something unusual in his last delivery on that pitch and was apparently the one responsible for nudging Joe Girardi to the mound, according to Hoch.
“It was funny, the way he delivered the ball,” Pena said. “Then he started to shake it. I saw it right away. I said, ‘We need to take care of this guy.’”
One of Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, or Adam Warren will likely step into the starting rotation initially to fill in for Nova. How things progress from there will largely depend on Nova and will be better known after Monday when he is re-evaluated. Should Nova only be forced to miss a few weeks, the Yankees just might be able to get by with that mix filling out the rotation. If the trio can’t hold down that last spot, however, and if Nova’s forced to miss the remainder of the season then New York could be facing a larger question as there is little depth in the upper minor leagues that would be considered MLB-ready.
New York had a busy Sunday morning on the transaction front. In addition to placing Nova on the DL, the team also activated first baseman Mark Teixeira and recalled a pair of right-handed relievers in Preston Claiborne and Bryan Mitchell. Infielder Scott Sizemore was optioned to Triple-A. Right-hander Matt Daley was designated for assignment.