TAMPA, Fla. (WFAN/AP) — Mariano Rivera hinted 2012 could be his final year in the major leagues, saying he won’t announce his long-term plans until after the season.
The Yankees’ 42-year-old closer says he has reached a decision about whether he will retire or return in 2013 but said he won’t reveal it until “maybe October.”
“I will definitely let you know,” said Rivera. “I won’t let you know now, but I know. I want to do my job, always, but I made my decision already.”
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Rivera, the career saves leader with 603, is signed through this season. Following the retirements of Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, Rivera and 37-year-old Derek Jeter are the only remaining players from the core group that led the Yankees’ resurgence.
“It is important for me to leave the game on top if God allows me to do that,” Rivera said. “Just finish on top, knowing I did what I was called to do.”
Should he retire, Rivera has many interests away from baseball.
“My kids want me home,” Rivera said Monday. “They were ready for me to stay home. I had to tell them, I have a job to do. I have obligations.”
“I have my church, my family,” he added. “I’ve been blessed in amazing ways. I’ve have a great career, but at the same time, there’s other things to do.”
Rivera played catch with fellow reliever Rafael Soriano during the Yankees’ first workout of the year. When asked whether he was as excited as he was in his first big league camp almost 20 years ago, Rivera responded: “Believe it.”
“You come here to compete,” Rivera said. “I love to compete. I don’t come here for a free ride. I’m come here to get ready: the playoffs, the World Series, that’s the goal.”
Rivera was 1-2 with 44 saves in 49 chances and a 1.91 ERA. He was selected for his fourth straight All-Star appearances and 12th overall.
Rivera had an eventful offseason, undergoing surgery in December to remove polyps from his vocal chords.
“It did scare me,” Rivera said. “It did change a lot of things. It shows you how quick you can be gone. How important not to overlook anything. It could be cancer. I was relieved when everything came back negative.”
Rivera wasn’t able to talk for a week following the operation.
“Not being able to speak, I was going crazy,” he said, “but at the same time you appreciate that.”
Notes: RHP Joba Chamberlain (elbow ligament replacement surgery) threw off a 5-inch half-mound for the fifth time and remains on target to throw off a full mound on Feb. 28. … Lou Piniella, a special assistant to the general manager with San Francisco last season, will join a group of spring training instructors that also includes Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Goose Gossage and David Wells. … Manager Joe Girardi said if he made up a lineup on Monday, Derek Jeter would hit leadoff, with Robinson Cano batting third, Alex Rodriguez fourth and Mark Teixeira fifth.
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