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Yanks Send Nova To Minors To Open A Spot For Hughes

Phil Hughes (credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Phil Hughes (credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Ivan Nova is the odd man out in the New York Yankees’ crowded rotation.

Despite an 8-4 record, Nova was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday to open a spot for Phil Hughes, who will come off the disabled list Wednesday.

“He’ll be back at some point,” manager Joe Girardi said about Nova. “He’s not the first guy who’s thrown the ball extremely well and had to go down. He’ll continue to get better.”

New York recalled right-hander Lance Pendleton before the Subway Series finale against the Mets, giving the staff another fresh arm in the bullpen.

Hughes will take Nova’s turn in the rotation Wednesday night in Cleveland. An 18-game winner last season, Hughes has been sidelined since April 15 with right shoulder inflammation.

Unable to generate the usual zip on his fastball, Hughes opened 0-1 with a 13.94 ERA in three starts this year and was placed on the DL with a “dead arm.”

He’s been working his way back since and the Yankees were impressed with his consistent velocity (92-94 mph) and sharp stuff Wednesday in a rehab outing with Double-A Trenton.

But his progress, along with Bartolo Colon’s return from the disabled list Saturday, gave the team six healthy starters. Other than Hughes, an All-Star last season, all of them have pitched well.

“That’s what has made this decision so tough,” Girardi said before the move was announced. “That’s a great problem to have.”

Nova has a 4.12 ERA in 17 games, 16 starts. The rookie right-hander has won four straight decisions, including a 5-1 victory over the Mets on Friday night.

“We want to keep Nova going,” Girardi said after his team’s 3-2 loss in 10 innings Sunday. “We could go to a six-man rotation. We didn’t feel that was the best idea. You could put (Nova) in the bullpen, and I don’t think you’d help his development. It’s a chance for him to continue to improve. He’s pitched great. He really has.”

In other news, streaking shortstop Eduardo Nunez was held out of the lineup because of tightness in his right hamstring. Nunez, filling in for injured Derek Jeter, was 7 for 8 with a homer and three doubles in the first two games of the Subway Series at Citi Field.

Ramiro Pena started at shortstop and committed two late errors as the Mets rallied. Nunez said it was nothing serious and he was available to play. Girardi said there were no tests planned.

Jeter went 1 for 2 with a walk in his first rehab game Saturday night with Double-A Trenton and was scheduled to play there again Sunday night, weather permitting. He is expected to rejoin the Yankees on Monday in Cleveland.

Elected by fans to start at shortstop for the American League in the All-Star game July 12, the 37-year-old Jeter has been on the disabled list since June 14 with a strained right calf. He is six hits shy of 3,000.