The New York Yankees announced Tuesday Nova partially tore his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Dr. Christopher Ahmad, the team’s physician, recommended surgery after the MRI confirmed what the team feared.
Although the team has not made a decision, UCL injuries typically end in Tommy John surgery.
“It’s hard. I don’t even know what to tell you guys,” Nova said in the team’s news release. “I’m so sad right now that I’m not going to be pitching. It hurts. But God is real big, and I know that he’s not going to forget me. I have to keep working hard and try to get back as soon as possible.”
After the 82nd pitch of his April 19 outing against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Joe Girardi said Nova felt discomfort in his elbow for the first time all game. If he elects Tommy John surgery, Nova would be the 14th pitcher this season to have the procedure done.
Unfortunately, because of the rash of these types of elbow injuries, Dr. James Andrews has become a clubhouse name among baseball fans. He’s an orthopedic surgeon known for performing these operations and an appointment with him is usually never a good sign for a pitcher.
“It seems like every year I’m doing more and more, so from my standpoint it’s an epidemic,” he told USA Today earlier this month.
Girardi will be able to fill Nova’s void from within with the likes of David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno and Alfredo Aceves. All four have major league experience and can operate as long men, starters or middle relievers.
Vidal Nuno gets another start… he will go Saturday, Joe Girardi said.
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) April 22, 2014
The Yankees held a competition this spring to determine who would fill the team’s fifth rotation spot, a job Michael Pineda won. He has been impressive in his first few starts and now those pitchers may get their second chance.
“It’s really unfortunate. It’s a guy that, obviously, we were counting on pretty heavily this year,” Girardi said in the Yankees’ release. “He’ll be re-evaluated by Dr. Ahmad tomorrow and I guess you go from there to see what the next step is.”
Despite the huge contract committed to Masahiro Tanaka, Nova earned the third spot in the Yankees’ rotation behind C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. Nova went 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 2013, but showed flashes of brilliance. In July and Aug., he went 6-2 with an ERA just above 2.00 while never leaving a game before the seventh inning.
“We’re going to see how deep we are,” Girardi said in the release. “We felt pretty good about our starters leaving Spring Training. Those are the guys you’re going to look at, but it’s not what you want.”