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Yankees lose game and Eduardo Nunez to bruised biceps

Eduardo Nunez grimaces while helped to the dugout

Eduardo Nunez grimaces while helped to the dugout after being hit by a pitch from Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Doug Fister during the fourth inning. (April 5, 2013) Credit: AP

DETROIT -- The Yankees, transformed into Team Triage almost from the moment spring training began, aren't finding the regular season any less dangerous.

On Friday afternoon, they lost their third game in four tries -- falling to the Tigers, 8-3, at Comerica Park -- and, more significantly, another player.

This time it was shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who left the game in the fourth inning after getting hit in the right biceps by Doug Fister's 88-mph fastball.

A precautionary X-ray came back negative and Nunez is day-to-day, but Joe Girardi ruled him out for Saturday's game.

"First time I've seen so many injuries on one team," said Nunez, his upper right arm in a heavy wrap. "It's not good. Very bad."

The Yankees, already without Derek Jeter for the foreseeable future, hope Nunez isn't gone too long. There are few palatable infield options in the minor leagues, and Corban Joseph is the only infielder on the 40-man roster.

Utilityman Jayson Nix replaced Nunez at shortstop Friday. For now, Girardi said he doesn't think a roster move will be necessary. His extra infielder will be catcher Francisco Cervelli.

"I'm a catcher this year," joked Cervelli, who played in two games at third base in 2010 and one game at second in 2012. "But anything for the team."

The Tigers hit three home runs, getting a three-run shot and a two-run blast from Prince Fielder and a solo homer from Alex Avila.

Fielder's three-run homer in the fifth on a high fastball from lefthander Boone Logan, brought in specifically to face Fielder, gave the Tigers the lead for good at 5-3. Fielder had been 1-for-5 in his career against Logan.

"I was trying to go down and away with a heater," Logan said. "Pitch was way out of the zone, but he was sitting on it and he was able to get to it . . . just a bad performance today."

That's a good segue to losing pitcher Ivan Nova, coming off a subpar 2012, who was erratic over 4 2/3 innings Friday.

Nova left with a 3-2 lead but was charged with four runs. He allowed five hits, walked two, threw a wild pitch and hit Miguel Cabrera with the final pitch he threw. Nova threw 96 pitches, only 53 for strikes.

"Of course you want to start the season in a good way," Nova said. "Personally, I don't feel like I pitched that bad. I was throwing a lot of balls and getting into deep counts, but it's the first start of the year . . . I felt good with all of my pitches. Just one of those days where you don't throw enough strikes."

Kevin Youkilis led the Yankees' again-unimpressive offense, going 2-for-4, including a two-run homer that capped a three-run fifth and gave the Yankees a brief 3-2 lead. The Yankees are hitting .225 after four games.

Fister allowed three runs and six hits in five innings before lefthander Drew Smyly finished up with four perfect innings.

Fister's most memorable pitch, at least from the Yankees' perspective, was the fourth-inning fastball that came up and in on Nunez and dropped the shortstop to the dirt. After being tended to by Girardi and Yankees medical personnel, Nunez, barely able to stand, was helped from the field.

Was he scared? "A lot," Nunez said. "I thought it was broken. A lot of pain . . . I didn't feel anything in my arm. Just pain all over my arm."

A broken bone would have prompted a roster move, but Girardi indicated that the Yankees can get by for now, the assumption being that Nunez won't be gone long.

Still, playing shorthanded is getting old.

"You can't lose everybody," Girardi said. "I don't think we've lost Nuney for a while; he's got a bruise. We'll get him back, I think, fairly quickly. We're fortunate it wasn't more than that, but you can't have too many guys go down, that's for sure."

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