Nova caps recovery, set for Wednesday debut

Back from Tommy John surgery, Yankees hurler will make first big league start since April 2014

Nova caps recovery, set for Wednesday debut

NEW YORK -- After Tommy John surgery, 14 months of recovery and three Minor League rehab starts, Yankees right-handed pitcher Ivan Nova is finally back.

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Nova will make his first Major League start of the 2015 season, and first since April 2014, when he takes the mound Wednesday in the finale of a three-game series with the Phillies.

"It was the moment that we were waiting for. I was coming in here each and every day and making sure that I did everything right," Nova said Monday. "I was pitching in the Minors, trying to get everything done and good to go. We're two days away from the return. I'm really anxious and happy to be back."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced the news Monday in his pregame meeting with reporters, noting that the team could use a six-man rotation through its road trip to Anaheim, which concludes July 1.

"The one thing that we have after this long streak is we have some off-days," Girardi said. "I wouldn't anticipate us doing it after we get home from Anaheim."

In his three rehab starts, Nova went 1-1 and threw 15 2/3 combined innings with a total of 10 strikeouts. His final two starts, on June 13 and this past Friday were both with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

In his last start, Nova wasn't as sharp, giving up seven hits and five earned runs.

But Girardi said that wasn't something he read too far into moving forward.

"I don't think you can ever make too much of what a Major League hitter or pitcher is doing in a Minor League situation, because it's just different," Girardi said. "We just feel he's ready to go. No matter how he does Wednesday, I don't think you could say he wasn't ready or he was ready.

"It's just kind of a feel that we're using, and we feel that it's probably important that we inject this sixth starter right now, in a sense. And that's why we're going to do it."

Nova, however, was a bit harder on himself.

"I didn't pitch good. There isn't any excuse," he said. "It was the only bad one throughout the whole process, the only time that I pitched like this."

Before he had the surgery in 2014, Nova went 2-2 in four starts with a 8.27 ERA. The pitcher indicated that in the early stages of the injury he struggled mentally, before finding a sense of peace when he realized how many pitchers have had Tommy John surgery and how many have bounced back.

On Wednesday, he hopes to be one of them.

"I think [my command] is the same. I keep throwing strikes with all my pitches," Nova said. "I walked a guy last time. That doesn't mean that I was all over the place. I walked two guys, but if you look at the past, the whole process, I only walked three guys. It's really good.

"As long as I feel healthy and as long as I'm feeling good, everything will be fine."

Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.