Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Legend closing out career

Yankees' stopper Rivera will hang up cleats following season

  • Print

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera and his family walked into the pavilion behind the third-base stands at Steinbrenner Field followed by his New York Yankees' teammates.

It was the start of the long goodbye for baseball's greatest closer.

Dressed in a dark jersey top and pinstriped uniform pants, Rivera announced what already had leaked out in prior days: This will be his 19th and final major league season.

And the 43-year-old has a clear vision of how he wants his career to end.

"The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series," he said. "Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition."

Rivera said he made the decision before arriving at spring training. With the entire Yankees' team looking on -- including longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte -- Rivera said he knew the time was right for his decision. Rivera sat a table and team officials, led by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and manager Joe Girardi, sat nearby.

"I have just a few bullets left," he said.

He then made his first game appearance since April 30, throwing 15 pitches during a 1-2-3 fifth inning against Atlanta. Looking like his overpowering self of old, Rivera retired Dan Uggla on a popup to second, then threw called third strikes past Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.

"It was great to be on the mound again," Rivera said with a big smile.

Rivera jogged onto the field from the right-field bullpen to a standing ovation as Metallica's Enter Sandman was played, then left the mound to another loud ovation. He called the whole day "overwhelming."

"It's wonderful," Rivera said. "I can't ask for more than that."

With a dominating cut fastball few batters have figured out, Rivera holds the career saves record with 608 and has helped the Yankees win five World Series titles. He combined with Jeter, Pettitte and Jorge Posada to form the Yankees' Core Four.

"We just have a special relationship," Pettitte said. "I don't know how to explain it. Obviously, when you spent as much time together after as many years as we've been together, you just kind of grow a little closer to one another than you would with other teammates. He's always been there for me."

Rivera briefly spent time with Pettitte and Jeter following the news conference, then headed toward the back field next to the pavilion to work out with the other pitchers.

"What almost got me was seeing the whole team there," Rivera said. "I was like, 'Wow!' It was great that Joe allowed it."

Jeter said it's great that Rivera has "come to peace with what he wants to do."

"Now he can enjoy this season," the Yankees captain said. "I think it's going to be a special year for him. I'm happy for him. He's made this decision, and it's the best one for him and his family."

Rivera missed most of last year after tearing his right knee while shagging flyballs during batting practice in early May. Rivera said he would have retired at the end of last season if he had not gotten hurt.

"I didn't want to leave like that," he said. "I felt like I wanted to give everything."

Rivera also said he wanted to give Yankees fans around the major leagues a chance to see him one more time, knowing this will be the end.

"I'm actually appreciative that we get to enjoy him for one more year," Girardi said. "I think he's prepared to go 100 per cent. I think he'll have a good year. It's been a real treat for me. I was relaxed when he came into the game as a catcher, and I'm relaxed when he comes into the game as a manager, so that's probably about the highest compliment you can pay a closer."

Rivera's wife and two children were by his side for the news conference. He began by playfully thanking the Yankees for giving him a new contract for two additional years through 2015 -- which would break a team policy of not negotiating new deals before the old ones expire.

"It's not too easy when you come to a decision like this," Rivera said, turning serious. "After this year, I will be retired. ... Now you're hearing it from me. It's official now."

While others have proclaimed him the best closer in baseball history, Rivera wouldn't put that label on himself.

"I don't feel myself, the greatest of all time. I'm a team player," he said. "I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was more emphatic in his assessment.

"He's irreplaceable," Cashman said. "He is the greatest of all-time."

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 10, 2013 B12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

In the Key of Bart: Peladeau-Re-Mi

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005
  • Water lilys are reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What Western Conference teams will emerge from the first round of the NHL playoffs?

View Results

Ads by Google