By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) _ The banged-up New York Yankees had two setbacks in one afternoon.
Eduardo Nunez, filling in for injured shortstop Derek Jeter, was hit on his right biceps by Doug Fister’s pitch in the fourth inning Friday and Detroit went on to beat the Yankees 8-3 for New York’s third loss in four games.
The only good news for New York was that X-rays on Nunez’s biceps were negative.
“I was scared it was broken,” he said. “The pain hurt a lot.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi doesn’t expect Nunez to play Saturday at Detroit, saying he’s day to day.
Before the series opener, Girardi said Jeter may not come back to play for the Yankees this month, adding he has never “thrown out a date” for his possible return. Jeter needs to go through a spring training-like schedule when he comes back from rehabilitating his broken left ankle, according to Girardi.
Jeter was hurt in the AL championship series opener against Detroit last October while trying to field a grounder.
The Yankees have five All-Stars on the disabled list, with Jeter joined by third baseman Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery), first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist), outfielder Curtis Granderson (broken forearm) and pitcher Phil Hughes (back pain).
“I feel sad about myself and my teammates. The injuries are coming to this team so fast,” Nunez said.
Hughes, originally scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, had his outing shifted to Detroit for the second game of the Tigers series.
Girardi doesn’t want sympathy for his short-handed team.
“I still believe we have a team that can go out and play well and win games,” he said.
The Yankees will have to pitch better to compete. They gave up 17 runs to Boston, losing the season-opening series, and allowed almost half that many in Detroit’s first home game of the year.
Ivan Nova (0-1) yielded four runs and five hits over 4 2-3 innings.
“I don’t feel like I pitched that bad,” he insisted.
Prince Fielder hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth inning _ when he was the first batter to face Boone Logan _ and added a soaring, two-run shot in the seventh off Shawn Kelley.
Alex Avila, the second hitter to face Kelley in the sixth, homered deep into the right-field seats.
“They have a very good lineup, top to bottom,” Girardi said. “They have speed, they have power and they’re deep.”
In front of its fired-up fans, Detroit scored a run in the first and second innings and was held scoreless in the next two. The blue-and-orange clad fans groaned in the fifth, when Fister allowed a run to score on a wild pitch and Kevin Youkilis homered to put the Yankees up 3-2. In the home half, Fielder put the Tigers ahead for good, much to Girardi’s dismay.
“We had a chance to get out of the inning,” Girardi said. “(Nova) did get a double play, then Boonie makes a mistake with a fastball. You can’t do that to Prince Fielder.”
Fister (1-0) allowed three runs and six hits over five innings. Drew Smyly pitched four perfect innings and struck out five for his first career save.
NOTES: Teixeira said he’s still on schedule to return around May 1, and his injured right wrist is feeling better each day. … Yankees RHP Hiroki Kuroda is expected to take his next turn in the rotation Monday at Cleveland after bruising the middle finger on his pitching hand when it was hit by Shane Victorino’s line drive Wednesday night. … RHP Chien-Ming Wang was scheduled to pitch in an extended spring training game for the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., but threw a simulated game instead due to the weather.