Updated at 1:03 a.m., May 4, 2012
NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — The Yankees’ worst fears were realized Thursday night in Kansas City.
Mariano Rivera has a torn ACL in his right knee, according to manager Joe Girardi.
Rivera was carted off the field after hurting his knee while shagging fly balls during batting practice before the series opener against the Royals.
Baseball’s career saves leader was tracking down a ball near the wall in center field when his right knee appeared to buckle. He was grimacing while flat on the warning track in the outfield. According to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti, Rivera was helped onto a cart by Girardi and Mike Harkey. He was then taken to the trainers’ room by Girardi and assistant trainer Mark Littlefield.
Rivera was not putting any weight on his right leg, Murti reported.
According to reports, Rivera was examined by Royals associate physician Dr. Joe Noland and Yankees trainers. The initial diagnosis was a twisted right knee and Rivera was sent to KU MedWest for a cautionary MRI. However, Girardi broke the devastating news to reporters following the Yankees’ 4-3 loss.
“This is bad. There’s no question about it,” Girardi said. “This is not what you want to come to Kansas City to hear.”
Royals head physician Dr. Vincent Key diagnosed a torn ACL after looking at scans of the knee.
“I thought it wasn’t that bad, but it’s torn,” Rivera said after the game, pausing several times in the Yankees clubhouse to compose himself. “Have to fix it.”
Rivera said that he never gave a thought to getting hurt while chasing balls during batting practice. It’s something that he’s done his entire career to keep in shape.
He also refused to say whether his career is over. The five-time World Series champion has said he’ll make that decision after the season.
“At this point, I don’t know,” Rivera said. “At this point, I don’t know. Going to have to face this first. It all depends on how the rehab is going to happen, and from there, we’ll see.”
Girardi also dismissed any notion that the 12-time All-Star could have prevented the injury, reasoning that Rivera’s pregame routine helped to make him one of the game’s stars.
“You’ve all seen Mo run around here for what, 40 years?” Girardi said. “You can fall off the curb or down stairs and get hurt.”
When Rivera went down, teammate Alex Rodriguez was seen near home plate reacting to the scene in the outfield, saying “Oh, my God. Oh, my God.”
Rivera (1-1) blew the save on opening day, but he’s only allowed two hits in eight scoreless innings since then, picking up five of his 608 career saves.
The remarkably durable reliever hinted during spring training that this could be his final year in the major leagues, but also said that he won’t announce his long-term plans until after the season. His last trip to the disabled list came in 2003, when he had a groin strain.
Rivera hasn’t shown any effects of age, either. He’s made at least 60 appearances each of the last nine seasons, setting a standard for bullpen excellence that may never be touched.
He appeared in 64 games last season, and his 1.91 ERA was among the best of his 18-year major league career. Rivera wound up saving 44 games, tied for his most since the 2004 season.
Uh oh … Mo getting hurt? This isn’t supposed to happen… Offer your thoughts and comments below. …
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)