- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHICAGO -- New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova experienced tightness in his shoulder while pitching against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night and will be sent back to New York to undergo tests.
Manager Joe Girardi said the team expects Nova to miss at least one start, and that a trip to the disabled list is not out of the question.
"We don't really think it's a big thing but we want to make sure," Girardi said. "Short term there's a little concern, but I don't think it's anything serious."
Nova on Tuesday lost for the fourth time in five decisions since the All-Star break, allowing six earned runs (four on a grand slam by Kevin Youkilis) in the Yankees' 7-3 loss, but he said the shoulder discomfort was not the cause of his recent struggles.
"I was pitching my game without pain or anything,'' Nova said. "It was just in the last inning, on the last hitter."
The last hitter Nova faced was Alexei Ramirez, who flied out to right to end the sixth inning. Girardi said he noticed during the at-bat that the velocity of one of Nova's fastballs -- which had ranged between 93 and 95 mph -- had dipped to 90.
"I did see one pitch in the sixth inning that raised my eyebrow. I even asked [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] about it,'' Girardi said. "I asked, 'Was that a fastball?' It just looked kind of funny to me."
Nova identified the trouble spot in his shoulder as along the outside edge, an area in which he said he never has had any discomfort.
"It was like something tight in my shoulder," he said. "I'm always worried about my arm. With any kind of injury, you gotta feel concerned about it."
Nova said he first informed Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano about the injury when he came off the field at the end of the inning. Cano told bench coach Tony Pena, who passed the news on to Girardi. Nova did not re-enter the game for the seventh inning.
"Any time a guy says he has a little stiffness in his shoulder, you're going to worry,'' Girardi said. "As a pitcher, that's how he makes his livelihood. If it's his left shoulder, I'm not too worried.''
Nova's sudden lack of effectiveness after a 9-2 start has been a mystery to the Yankees. Girardi said after Tuesday night's game that Nova's problems were mechanical in nature and that the 25-year-old was ''inconsistent'' in maintaining the quality of his pitches.
"He'll do it right on one pitch,'' Girardi said. "And then he won't do it right on the next one.''
At least for his next scheduled start, Nova's place in the rotation will be taken by rookie David Phelps.
7hRandy Jennings, Special to ESPN.com