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Partial UCL tear sends Nova to disabled list

ST. PETERSBURG -- Ivan Nova's season is in jeopardy after the Yankees right-hander was diagnosed with a partial tear of his right ulnar collateral ligament, an injury that often leads to Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees placed Nova on the 15-day disabled list. Nova underwent an MRI on Tuesday that confirmed the diagnosis of a torn UCL, and surgery was recommended to him. No decision has been made yet.

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"It's hard. I don't even know what to tell you guys," Nova said. "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."

Nova, 27, felt discomfort in his arm after delivering a 90-mph fastball to Evan Longoria in the fifth inning of a 16-1 Rays victory over the Yankees on Saturday at Tropicana Field.

It was an ineffective outing for Nova, who allowed a career-high four home runs and was charged with eight runs in four-plus innings. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Nova had not complained about any discomfort before his last pitch, Nova's 82nd of the evening.

"It's really unfortunate. It's a guy that, obviously, we were counting on pretty heavily this year," Girardi said. "He'll be re-evaluated by Dr. Ahmad tomorrow and I guess you go from there to see what the next step is."

The approximate recovery time from Tommy John surgery is 12 to 18 months. Nova said that after he had the MRI, he went back to the hotel and did not want to talk to anyone. 

"Having a bad start makes me feel terrible, because I want to pitch good. But having an injury like the one I have now, that's devastating," Nova said. "Not because of me, but because of my family and friends. It hurts. I know a lot of people feel bad because of this. We have to keep going. We have to keep going forward."

Nova is 2-2 with an 8.27 ERA in four starts this season. He was 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 23 games (20 starts) for New York in 2013, and opened the season as the Yankees' No. 3 starter behind CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda.

There have been a rash of Tommy John surgeries in the Majors this season; Rays left-hander Matt Moore elected to have the procedure last week, becoming the 13th hurler to do so in 2014. Nova is hoping that he will be able to avoid becoming No. 14 on that list.

"It seems to be the surgery of choice this year," Girardi said. "There are years that it seems there are an awful amount of certain injuries, and this year it seems to be Tommy John. I don't really know what to make of it."

Girardi said that the Yankees plan to use Monday's off-day to discuss their starting pitching choices moving forward. Left-hander Vidal Nuno was slated for a spot start on Sunday and could work his way into that mix. Girardi did not rule out moving right-handers David Phelps or Adam Warren from the bullpen to the rotation.

The Yankees also have veteran right-hander Alfredo Aceves as a depth option at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Aceves pitched five scoreless innings for the RailRiders in his season debut.

"We're going to see how deep we are," Girardi said. "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."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

New York Yankees, Ivan Nova