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Nova to return to rotation on Saturday

Righty will take Freddy Garcia's spot vs. Rays
09/12/2012 6:10 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Wednesday that Ivan Nova will replace Freddy Garcia in the starting rotation, and the 25-year-old righty will make his return to the mound on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.

Nova, who is 11-7 with a 4.93 ERA in 25 starts this season, was placed on the DL with inflammation in his right shoulder after his last start on August 21. He threw a simulated game on Tuesday and came through with flying colors, and Girardi hopes he can give the Yankees staff a boost.

“We’ve had struggles getting some length out of our starters,” Girardi said. “I like the way that he (Nova) threw the other day, and we’re going to put him back in the rotation. This guy was really good for us for a substantial period of time, then he ran into some bumps, and we hope he’s beyond that.”

Nova was 10-3 with a 3.92 ERA at the All-Star break but was just 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA in eight second-half starts before going on the disabled list, and Girardi said that having the last three weeks off has hopefully helped heal Nova both mentally and physically.

“You’re never sure which one comes first,” Girardi said. “If it’s the physical where your mechanics are a little bit off and you get frustrated and you don’t have your consistent stuff and then you start thinking about, what do I need to do? Or is it the other way around? He was on a roll for us and pitched very well, and we need him to do it again.”

As for Garcia, the skipper said that the veteran righty, who threw 52 pitches in his last outing on Sunday, will be moved back to the bullpen and be available “possibly tomorrow (Thursday), but definitely by Friday.”

Garcia began the year in the rotation, but was removed in favor of David Phelps (and eventually Andy Pettitte) after posting a 12.51 ERA in four April starts. He flourished in a relief role in May and June and returned to the rotation in July to replace the injured Pettitte, but after winning five of his first nine starts, he has posted a 7.84 ERA over the last four and lasted just 3 1-3 innings against Baltimore on Sunday.

Going forward, Girardi said that while he may use Garcia in a long relief role if needed, he also won’t hesitate to bring him into the game as a short man either.

“It might be that you like his stuff against a few hitters, so you bring him in,” Girardi said. “But obviously you have to give him time to warm up.”

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