Joe Girardi said it’s imperative to get Ivan Nova back to being an effective pitcher, but the Yankees manager is sticking with Vidal Nuno for Saturday’s start against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

Activated from the 15-day disabled list Friday, Nova took a seat in the bullpen. Because long man Adam Warren threw 60 pitches Wednesday against the Orioles, he wasn’t available in the Yankees’ 9-4 win over the Rays Friday night and is doubtful for Saturday’s game.

Girardi said he won’t ask Nova, who didn’t pitch, to enter a game in the middle of an inning, so it appears Nova has been cast as a long reliever.

“I am not a bullpen guy, but that’s where they have me right now,’’ said Nova, who was 1-1 with a bloated 6.48 ERA before going on the disabled list on April 27 with an inflamed right triceps. While on the shelf, he experienced a rib cage problem in the left side that didn’t turn out to be serious. “I am not thinking bullpen the rest of the year. If I get an opportunity [to start], I have to make the most of it.’’

With Andy Pettitte returning to the rotation from the DL soon, Nuno will go back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Nova will stay in the pen.

“Our plan is for him to be in the bullpen and get back on track,’’ Girardi said. “We need him to help us.’’

The Yankees could have kept Nova, who last worked Monday in an extended spring training, on the DL. Or they could have optioned him to the minors where he could work as a starter. Instead, they put him in the bullpen.

Given a choice, Nova said being a big league reliever suits him better than being a minor league starter.