- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW YORK -- New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday after leaving Friday night's game in the third inning after experiencing what originally was described as pain in his pitching elbow.
After undergoing an MRI, the diagnosis did not sound nearly so ominous -- officially, Nova has inflammation of his right triceps -- and the Yankees are hopeful he will be able to return to the rotation when he is eligible to come off the DL on May 11.
In the meantime, his spot on the starting staff will be taken by David Phelps, the long man in the Yankees' bullpen, and Vidal Nuno, a left-hander, was recalled from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, to assume Phelps' duties in the bullpen.
The Yankees also put Francisco Cervelli on the DL after losing the catcher to a broken right hand in the first inning of Friday night's game. Cervelli left the game after just five pitches and underwent surgery Saturday morning at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He is expected to be out for six weeks.
Nova, 26, described himself as "relieved" that the injury appears to be in a muscle rather than in the elbow.
"At first you think something negative is going to happen," he said. "I mean, it's still negative but it's not that bad."
Nova said he first felt the soreness in the second inning of Friday's 6-4 Yankees victory over the Toronto Blue Jays and reported it to manager Joe Girardi, but insisted he could still pitch.
Nova said he only felt the pain when throwing his curveball, which raised fears he could have structural damage to his elbow. But the MRI revealed nothing more than muscle inflammation, a far less serious condition.
"Inflammation can pop up for a number of reasons, just the nature of the business when you use a body part over and over and over, whether it's a patella tendon or it's a shoulder or it's an elbow or a tricep," Girardi said. "For him, there is no one specific point that I can point to. Hopefully we can knock it out fairly quickly to get him back on the hill."
Both the manager and the pitcher expressed frustration at the injury, especially because Nova (1-1, 6.48) had struggled this season and had enjoyed a 1-2-3 first inning with two strikeouts.
"I was getting excited," Nova said. "I was throwing strikes."
"I thought he look pretty good the first inning, too," Girardi said. "I thought his sinker was really good. It's frustrating because when you feel like that, you want someone to build on that and go out and have a good start and roll off a bunch of good starts back-to-back-to-back. But now we'll have to wait."
According to Nova, no further tests are planned and the only treatment is rest and icing.
"It's only inflammation," Nova said. "There's nothing more than that, so we're going to take care of it, we're going to get some rest, I guess no throwing for a couple of days, and then I'll be back."
Phelps replaced Nova in Friday's game and earned the win, working four innings in which he allowed one run on just two hits and struck out nine. The plan is for Phelps to start Wednesday night's game against the Astros and at least one more start in place of Nova.
Jeter, out until after the All-Star break because of an injured ankle, was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room on the roster.
There was good news for New York on Saturday, though, as Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup after missing six games because of tightness in his lower back. He was set to play first base and bat fifth against the Blue Jays.
The Yankees recalled Austin Romine from Triple-A Scranton to take Cervelli's place on the roster.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.