NEW YORK (WFAN) — Mariano Rivera erased any doubt about his baseball intentions.
“I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this,” the Yankees’ closer told reporters on Friday. “If it takes two, three, four, five, seven more (seasons), whatever it takes.”
Rivera tore his ACL shagging fly balls Thursday night, putting the 42-year-old’s career in doubt. 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.
The Yankees’ great also told reporters Friday that he spoke to Dr. David Altcheck, the Mets team physician who previously performed surgery on Rivera’s pitching shoulder. Rivera said the doctor told him it could be between three to five months before he heals from the injury.
“He says I’m a quick healer, so that’s good,” Rivera said. “Miracles happen guys.”
Rivera also added that what he feels worst about is not being able to be there for his teammates.
“I’m a positive man, I’m OK. I feel sorry that I let down my teammates, but besides that I’m OK and the team will be okay, too,” Rivera said.
Rivera hinted in February that this may be his last season. To many, it’s unfathomable to think the “immortal” Rivera would be forced to literally limp into retirement, but the injured closer sounded as if hanging it up would be a real possibility.
“At this point, I don’t know,” he said after the injury. “Going to have to face this first. It all depends on how the rehab is going to happen, and from there, we’ll see.”
The day after the injury Rivera was seemingly more upbeat, tweeting “Thank you fans, friends and family for your prayers, well wishes and support. I will be ok. I will be back.”
Yankees captain Derek Jeter had predicted Thursday night that Rivera would be back.
“It’s just the way I felt last night. I didn’t really think about it last night. I usually think about my answers, but was more of a reaction,” Jeter said.
With Rivera out, David Robertson figures to take over as closer, with Rafael Soriano also possibly getting some chances. Saddened by the injury, Yankees players were lifted by Rivera’s decision.
“Everybody is happy to hear that, but you can’t sit around and wait,” Jeter said. “Guys get hurt. Injuries are unfortunate, But the games continue. I’m sure everyone’s happy he’s decided to do that. We still have work to do, so you can’t sit here and count the days until he comes back.”
First baseman Mark Teixeira called Rivera’s decision “not surprising at all.”
“I thought he was going to come back anyways,” he said. “I was one of those guys that didn’t believe he was going to retire. He’s still one of the best players in the game. It’s tough to think at 42 he’d walk away.”
Alex Rodriguez hopes Rivera will go through his rehabilitation with the major league team, rather than at the minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.
“We need him around and we need his presence and his leadership,” A-Rod said. “He promised me that he’s going to be around as much as possible and I’m going to hold him up to that.”
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