Yankees Closer Would 'Rather Pitch In The Ninth'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera wants no part of starting the All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Yeah, it would be a great moment for New York and the retiring Rivera. His start could even be statistically justified.

But there’s one problem: he’s just not interested.

“What I do is close the games,” Rivera said Sunday during the old-timers’ festivities at Yankee Stadium, according to USA Today. “I don’t start the games. It’s a privilege and an honor to be considered like that, but I think the right thing is to do it the way it is — especially when it counts.”

The 43-year-old has four All-Star Game saves. His Hall of Fame resume includes an all-time record 634 regular-season saves, including 26 in 2013.

American League manager Jim Leyland will ultimately be responsible for choosing his team’s starter in the Midsummer Classic, set for July 16 in Queens.

“I don’t want to start the game and give up 10 runs in the first inning,” said Rivera, who has announced his intentions to retire at the end of the season. “I’d rather pitch in the ninth.”

Rivera told the New York Post in May that he wasn’t interested in getting the start. The conversation was sparked by baseball writer Bill Chuck, who launched the popular #StartMo campaign on Twitter.

“I definitely appreciate all that, but I don’t think that would be right because I am not a starter,” Rivera told the Post. “I’m a reliever. Again, I do appreciate it, but I want to be who I am. I am a reliever. I respect the thought, but that is not what I do. Maybe, I’ll get the chance to close.”

He also talked about it last month with MLB.com: “It would mess up everything. It would be the first time I’ve started, I think, since 1995. I don’t think it would be right. I’d rather close the game than start the game.”

Rivera has a 1.61 ERA with 27 strikeouts and six walks in 31 appearances this season.

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