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Closer to retirement

CHICAGO -- New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera insists he's still retiring at the end of the season.

Baseball's career saves leader said Tuesday he will not reconsider even though he shows no signs of slowing down. Rivera says he's been asked that in every city and hopes this is the last time. He says there's no going back.

At 43, Rivera has been as automatic as ever this season. He has 35 saves in 37 opportunities and a 1.56 ERA entering Tuesday's game against the Chicago White Sox.

Rivera earned his second major league win in Chicago in 1995, when he was a starter and tossed eight shutout innings. The White Sox presented him with a framed scorecard from that game.

 

Ump knocked out of game

NEW YORK -- Plate umpire Manny Gonzalez left Tuesday night's game between the Rockies and Mets after he was struck in what appeared to be the throat by a pitched ball that bounced off the dirt.

As pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon attempted to lay down a bunt at the start of the sixth inning, the pitch from Jenrry Mejia bounced up and lodged underneath Gonzalez's protective mask. Gonzalez reached up into his mask, then went down on his hands and knees.

His fellow umpires attended to him, and he was walked off the field through the Mets dugout. Larry Vanover, the second-base ump, took over behind the plate and the game continued with three umps.

 

Catcher ties record

HOUSTON -- Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway tied a major league record with four passed balls in one inning.

Lavarnway had trouble handling pitches from knuckleballer Steven Wright in the first inning Tuesday night against the Houston Astros. Wright was making his first big league start.

It was the third time in major league history a team had four passed balls in one inning. It last happened on Aug. 22, 1987, when Texas Rangers catcher Geno Petralli did it against the White Sox in the seventh inning. Knuckleballer Charlie Hough was pitching in that game.

The Astros scored three runs on just one hit in the first. Wright was replaced for the second inning.

 

Welcome back, Happ

SEATTLE -- After three months out of the Toronto Blue Jays rotation, J.A. Happ is ready to make his return.

Happ spoke Tuesday before Toronto's game against Seattle. He'll make his first start for the Blue Jays since May 7 today when Toronto closes out a three-game series against Seattle.

"I'm still frustrated and I still wanted to obviously be back sooner. I am happy about the way I feel now and I am happy to finally be here after all that because it wasn't necessarily, rehab's never fun, this kind of stuff wasn't fun," Happ said. "Like I said before, makes it worth all that, worth it now being back here and to get out there tomorrow."

Happ suffered a skull fracture and a sprained right knee when he fell to the ground in pain after being struck behind the left ear by a liner off the bat of Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings on May 7.

 

Trouble with the leather

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman eventually could change positions if his throwing problems don't get sorted out.

Johnson said Tuesday he thinks Zimmerman's issues are "more mental" than physical.

Zimmerman had off-season surgery on his right shoulder.

He has made 17 errors this year; among major league third baseman, only Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez has made more, 20. Zimmerman's .934 fielding percentage ranks 23rd at third base.

Asked whether Zimmerman's shoulder might lead to him playing elsewhere in the field, Johnson said: "If that doesn't get better, then obviously it's not a good spot for him to be in."

 

Embattled closer zips it

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona is downplaying closer Chris Perez's choice not to speak with local reporters.

Perez ducked the media following Monday's night's 4-2 loss to Detroit after he gave up four runs in the ninth inning.

Francona said Perez's decision not to talk is a "personal choice, but I think we try to foster an environment where guys are accountable."

A two-time All-Star, Perez was arrested earlier this season on misdemeanour drug charges. Approached before Tuesday's game, Perez said: "I'm not talking the rest of the year. Quit asking."

 

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2013 D4

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