TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Mariano Rivera’s family is on its way to Florida for the expected announcement that one of baseball’s greatest relievers will retire after the season.
There have been numerous reports that this will be the last season for the 43-year-old closer.
A news conference is scheduled for Saturday at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa. Rivera said after working out Friday that those wanting to know his plans will have to wait. He said “whatever’s out there is speculation until I talk to you guys.”
“My wife is traveling today,” Rivera said. “They’re traveling, coming here.”
Rivera is baseball’s saves leader with 608 and has a record 42 postseason saves with an 0.70 ERA while helping the Yankees win five World Series championships.
“I’ve got to be a little biased, without Mo being out there closing those games out, I would say that he’s by far been one of the biggest impacts for us winning those championships,” Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte said. “He’s absolutely dominated the game. I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like it ever again, to tell you the truth.”
Rivera, coming back from knee surgery, is expected to make his 2013 spring training debut Saturday against Atlanta.
“I am taking everything one day at a time,” Rivera said. “I’m not going to rush it. When I get the chance, do what I have to do.”
Rivera pitched in nine regular-season games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.
In 8 1/3 innings pitched last season, Rivera allowed two earned runs and converted five of six save opportunities.
“I’ve been playing with Mo for 20 some years, so I’ve always enjoyed my time with Mo,” Yankees captain Derek Jeter said.
Jeter, noting that the Yankees rarely do new deals until a contract is done, smiled when he said Saturday’s news conference “might be announcing an extension” for Rivera.
“I wish somebody would fill me in on why you’re asking so many questions about Mariano Rivera,” Pettitte said with a laugh. “Is there a press conference tomorrow? Is it for Mariano Rivera? If there’s a press conference for Mariano Rivera, I’ll probably be there.”
Rivera is a 12-time All-Star.
“I don’t think you’ll ever see another guy that can throw one pitch and dominate the game of baseball,” Pettitte said. “He’s made it into a Hall of Fame pitch. It’s got all to do with his mental makeup, physical makeup, the consistency that he brings every day, the focus he brings to the mound every time out. All those things factor in. You don’t have to worry about him when he walks out there and takes that mound.”
Rivera played catch with guest instructor David Wells, fielded five balls on the mound during defensive drills and did sprints on a back diamond at Steinbrenner Field.
Jeter, who is nearing his initial exhibition game since offseason ankle surgery, went 1-for-5 with a walk against Pettitte in a simulated game.
“So, now we move forward,” Jeter said.
The shortstop went to Charlotte, N.C., Thursday for a scheduled visit to see Dr. Robert Anderson, the surgeon who operated on his ankle last October.
“He said everything’s healed,” Jeter said. “100 percent healed.”
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