CHICAGO -- The Yankees had some concerns about Ivan Nova's health coming into Sunday's start against the White Sox, with his last start having been truncated because of what they termed "arm fatigue," but they never thought they'd have to worry about his safety in the dugout.
Luckily for the Bombers, they were able to laugh after Nova was clipped on the right hand by Brian McCann's fifth-inning foul ball. The hurler shrugged it off and finished his sharp six-inning effort, leading the Yankees to a 12-3 victory over the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field.
"Masahiro [Tanaka] should catch the ball because he's there to protect me," Nova quipped. "I didn't know it was that close to me; I just protected my head and the ball hit me."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that a fluke injury would have been the last thing his team needed on a day when the bullpen was short-staffed, wrapping up a 10-game road trip. But Nova looked just fine, whipping 90 pitches before leaving with an 11-run lead.
"He was really good, to give us those six strong innings," Girardi said. "We decided not to push him. He probably could have went out for the seventh, but with that little bit of a tired arm last time out, we figured we'd get him out there. He had a great day for us."
Nova had been limited to 75 pitches over five innings in his last start on Monday in Texas, but fatigue wasn't an issue in Chicago.
"Guys go through it. In a sense, you've got to pitch through it," Girardi said. "That's a part of the game. You're going to play sometimes with some fatigue, whether it's your legs, your arm, whatever it is. You've got to fight your way through it and that's what he did today."
Nova blanked the White Sox through five before former teammate Melky Cabrera knocked a run-scoring single in the sixth. He walked two and struck out seven, turning in his seventh big league start following Tommy John surgery.
"Everything was working fine. Everything was working the way it's supposed to," Nova said. "We called the right pitch at the right time and the sinker was doing a good job, good movement. I was able to work on both in and out of the plate with the hitters and keep them off balance."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.