BALTIMORE -- Ivan Nova said that his sprained right ankle improved overnight and the Yankees right-hander is hopeful that he will be able to make his next turn in the rotation.
Nova, who twisted his ankle fielding a Wilson Betemit grounder in Monday's 8-5 Yankees win over the Orioles, is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Reds at Yankee Stadium.
"It hurts a little bit, but not like last night," Nova said. "Last night was really bad. They took care of it, and it's much better right now."
Nova had the ankle tightly wrapped on Tuesday. Manager Joe Girardi said that no sure decision could be announced yet about the righty's next start, and he added that the Yankees could wait until game time on Saturday.
"I can't tell you if he's going to make his start or not," Girardi said. "Our plans are for him to make his start, but we'll see how he feels again tomorrow and if he can do his bullpen."
Nova said that he normally would throw a bullpen session on Wednesday, though he could push it back to Thursday and still be ready to face Cincinnati.
"I think I'm going to make [the start]," Nova said. "I feel really good -- not, like, 100 percent, but I feel really good."
Recalling history as closer, Soriano confident
BALTIMORE -- Rafael Soriano has been named the Yankees' third closer in the last two weeks, and the right-hander is thrilled to be receiving the assignment.
Soriano, who saved an American League-leading 45 games for the Rays in 2010, slides into the closer role following injuries to both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson.
"You've got to keep going, because we lost Mariano first and the bullpen tried to do whatever it had to do," Soriano said. "Now, with two guys down, it's not going to be easy for us. We're trying to be together, the bullpen and the team, and win."
While Soriano willingly signed a three-year, $35 million deal with the Yankees after the 2010 season to serve as a setup man, he left no question that he feeds off the adrenaline of saving games.
"Everybody, I think, knows what I can do in the ninth," Soriano said. "Sometimes it's not easy. ... I know what I've got, and everybody knows what I have, what I can do. And I'm looking forward to it."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was pleased by Soriano's comments and said that he remembers Soriano as being very consistent and durable in the closer role.
"I think there's an adrenaline that goes into the ninth inning, and it's something that he's been very successful at," Girardi said. "I can understand why he would say that. I've been pleased with the way he's thrown the ball for us, and I'm not surprised that he said that."
Soriano had a rough adjustment to New York last year, seeing his ERA jump from 1.73 in 2010 to 4.12, but the right-hander said that he is more settled this year because he is more comfortable with his role.
"I think the people forgot  already," Soriano said. "I don't think about what happened last year because it's already gone. I'm focused on this year."
Battling illness, Rapada willing to pitch
BALTIMORE -- Reliever Clay Rapada was expected to be available for the Yankees' series finale at Camden Yards on Tuesday, one day after he had to be helped down the dugout stairs following a dizzy spell.
Rapada said that he felt woozy as he pitched to two batters in the Yankees' 8-5 victory over the Orioles and blamed the interaction of Excedrin with antibiotics, which he is taking to treat a sore throat and congestion.
"Last night I came off [in the sixth inning] and had a headache and blurry vision," Rapada said. "I had the shakes. I had to be helped back up here."
Rapada said that there are several pitchers ill in the Yankees' bullpen, and he traced it back to rookie David Phelps, who came north with the club from Spring Training with a cough and congestion.
"The last couple of weeks, it just seems like it's going from one guy to each other," Rapada said. "I blame Phelps. He was the first one."
Girardi rejected the suggestion that Phil Hughes could move from the rotation to help the Yankees' banged-up bullpen, saying the right-hander will be needed more in the starting five.
"We've talked about [how] he's starting to turn it around as a starter and he's giving us some distance," Girardi said. "That becomes very important."
In his last eight games entering Tuesday, Robinson Cano was batting .469 (15-for-32) with four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs. He had raised his season average from .255 to .303 over that stretch.
On this date in 1941, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak began with a single off Eddie Smith in a 13-1 loss to the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. DiMaggio would hit .408 (91-for-223) until going hitless on July 17 against the Indians.