Veteran Right-Hander Hopes To Return To The Rotation Early In The 2015 Season

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Ivan Nova, remember him?

It was an ominous sign when the veteran right-hander went down with an elbow injury requiring season-ending surgery back in late April. The Yankees have endured a brutal season on several fronts since.

Nova underwent Tommy John surgery on April 29 and the hope is he can rejoin the Yankees rotation early in the 2015 season. According to Jack Curry of the Yes Network, Nova was expected to take his latest step toward doing just that on Wednesday by making 25 throws from 60 feet on flat ground.

Nova was seen shaking his right arm during the Yankees’ 16-1 loss to the Rays in Tampa on April 19. He left after allowing eight earned runs in just four innings. The next day he was diagnosed with a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, a similar injury to the one suffered by the Mets’ Matt Harvey last season that ultimately ended with him opting for Tommy John surgery.

Nova made four starts this season before going down and just didn’t look right. He went 2-2 with an 8.27 ERA and when he was bad he was very bad. He struggled with his velocity and didn’t have consistent bite on his breaking pitches.

Now the hope is the 27-year-old right-hander can work his way back to the Yankees, who have struggled through an agonizingly mediocre season that could very well end without a playoff appearance for the second straight season, something the Bombers haven’t done since 1992 and ’93.

Nova was the first of four Yankees starters to go down. CC Sabathia was knocked out by a knee injury in early May that eventually ended his season. Michael Pineda was sidelined for several months with a back injury and Masahiro Tanaka is still out with the same type of injury as Nova had, but not as severe.

Despite all the injuries, the Yankees’ rotation by next summer could look almost the same as it did to start this season, with Nova and Sabathia eventually returning to a five-man unit that will feature Pineda and Tanaka.

Veteran Hiroki Kuroda is expected to either retire or return to his native Japan after this season. The Yankees also have to consider what to do with veterans Brandon McCarthy and Chris Capuano, who have helped keep the Bombers in the wild card race despite the fact that this team is among the worst offensive clubs in baseball.

Nova is 40-22 with a 4.20 ERA in five major league seasons.

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