ST. PETERSBURG -- A seat in the Yankees' bullpen may not be Ivan Nova's ideal assignment, but as he acknowledged with a chuckle, it still beats riding buses in the Minor Leagues.
Nova was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday by the Yanks, and while they gave some thought to reinstating him to the rotation in Vidal Nuno's place, Nova will instead be asked to work as a long reliever.
"I'm not a bullpen pitcher. I've never been a bullpen guy," Nova said. "But like I've said, if that's the role they have for me right now, I've got to feel comfortable. I've got to do my best over there, too."
Right-hander Dellin Betances was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a corresponding move to make room for Nova, who was placed on the DL April 27 with an inflamed right triceps.
"Our plan is for [Nova] to be in the bullpen right now," manager Joe Girardi said. "We want to get him back on track, and we'll see if we can get him back on track that way. This is a guy with a power arm and very good stuff that has struggled, but we want to get him back on track."
Nova might have returned to start the second game of a May 13 doubleheader at Cleveland if not for a setback with a sore left oblique. He pitched four innings and threw about 60 pitches in an extended spring training game on Monday in Tampa, Fla., and said he feels fully healthy.
"I was throwing hard, I was throwing strikes," Nova said. "They were swinging at everything, so that was good. I think I threw the ball good."
Girardi said he would try to stay away from having Nova enter in the middle of an inning. Nova is 1-1 with 6.48 ERA in four starts this season, allowing 12 earned runs and 23 hits in 16 2/3 innings.
He has made four career relief appearances; three in 2010 and one in '11, when he allowed a game-winning Travis Snider hit in an April 19 loss to the Blue Jays.
"I'm not thinking like I'm going to be in the bullpen for the rest of the year," Nova said. "I know I'm going to get my chance to get back into the rotation. I've just got to battle my way out.
"I'll throw it good in the bullpen if they put me in the bullpen. I'm going to get my chance, and once I get my chance, I have to take advantage of the opportunity."