Nova, on the disabled list since April 27 with inflammation in his right triceps, was reactivated on Friday, but on his arrival at the Tropicana Field clubhouse learned that his spot in the rotation now belongs to rookie David Phelps and that possible start for him in Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays would be made by another rookie, Vidal Nuno, who has pitched just eight major league innings.
"Of course, I want to be in the starting rotation but that's their decision,'' said Nova, who went 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA in 28 starts in 2012 and struggled in his first four starts this season. "I'm not a bullpen pitcher. I never been a bullpen guy. But if that's the role they got for me right now, I gotta do the best that I can do. I'm not thinking like I'm going to be in the bullpen for the rest of the year.''
Nova is 1-1 with a 6.28 ERA this season, and has yet to get past the fifth inning in any start. He lasted just two innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 26 before leaving with soreness in his triceps. While on the DL, he also suffered an oblique strain that further set back his recovery.
In the meantime, the Yankees have been impressed with Phelps (2-2, 3.83 in four starts), who threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Blue Jays in his last start on May 18.
"We just like what Phelpsy's doing right now, and it was a struggle for Nova,'' Joe Girardi said. "He didn't pitch horrible, but Phelps is pitching pretty well right now. I still believe this kid can really help us, and we've got to get him back on track, so we'll try it through the bullpen."