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Nova has no lingering forearm issues

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP)

Ivan Nova's arm feels fine, and he says there are no aftereffects of the injury that cut short his start in Game 5 of the AL division series as the New York Yankees were eliminated.

After leading major league rookies in wins last season, Nova got the win in the rain-interrupted opener against Detroit. But he lost the series final, leaving after just two inning because of a strained flexor in his right forearm.

Nova healed without complications, and the right-hander began throwing off a mound well before spring training.

''It's perfect,'' he said Wednesday. ''100 percent. I was worried a little bit, but they said you're going to be fine.''

Nova was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 27 starts and one relief appearance despite spending most of July in the minor leagues.

''I just want to be in the rotation and I want to win games.'' he said. ''I don't mind if I'm number one, two, three, four, five.''

New York won his final 12 starts, and he became the Yankees' No. 2 starter behind CC Sabathia.

''There's a quiet confidence to him right now, and it's good to see it,'' Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. ''I thought that last year early, we scored some runs for him and I think it helped him get some wins and then he got some confidence from that. Then you saw him pitch the way that he's capable of.''

New York appears to have an abundance of starting pitchers, signing Hideki Kuroda and acquiring Michael Pineda from Seattle to join Sabathia, Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia.

''We have six weeks to iron that out,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''The best-case scenario for us is that everyone's throwing well and there are no injuries and there are no setbacks and you have to make a tough decision. I can tell you CC's going to start opening day, and then we go from there and try and figure out how everyone else lines up and who our five starters are.''

Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner is upbeat, citing the team's pitching. New York's bullpen includes career saves leader Mariano Rivera, and setup men David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.

''Our pitchers from top to bottom, the starters and the relievers, are deep and hopefully they'll all have good years,'' Steinbrenner said. ''Even if a couple have off years, we've got so much depth. But hopefully all will be good.

''Our hitting, as always, will be good or good enough. I'm pleased with what Brian (Cashman) was able to get done.''

Steinbrenner expects tough competition in the AL East.

''We realize it. The Red Sox realize it. The Rays realize it. You never know what the Blue Jays or Orioles will do at any given time,'' Steinbrenner said. ''The American League is very tough, and the American League East is the best division in baseball, period. It just is, top to bottom.''

Notes: Girardi said he likes the proposed one-game wild-card playoff plan. ''I think it makes it very interesting,'' he said. ''I think the excitement of that one-game playoff is good for baseball.'' ... RHP Joba Chamberlain (elbow ligament replacement surgery) threw 30 pitches in his latest session off a 5-inch half-mound and remains on target to throw off a full mound Tuesday. ... Closer Mariano Rivera threw on 60 feet on level ground. No date has been announced for his first bullpen session. ... Former Yankees manager Lou Piniella joined the YES Network as a special contributor.

Tagged: Yankees, CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Ivan Nova

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