NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Yankees manager Joe Girardi says he’ll talk to Mariano Rivera in the offseason about whether the Hall of Fame-bound closer definitely wants to retire.
Girardi told a local ESPN website on Tuesday that he thought Rivera could still be a very effective closer next year.
Girardi said he’ll advise baseball’s career saves leader to take a month or two this winter to make sure he wants to walk away from the game even though he’s stayed healthy all year.
The 43-year-old Rivera announced his plans to retire during spring training and has been on something of a farewell tour around the majors all season. He insisted he’s made his decision.
“Consider what?” Rivera said, appearing a bit annoyed. “Reconsider what?”
“I told you guys already. I don’t know why we’re talking about this again,” he added.
Girardi was asked about his comments after Rivera earned his 40th save in New York’s 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The manager said he’s not lobbying Rivera to return, he would simply be offering the perspective of a former player who retired at 39 because of aches and pains.
“I would just say to Mo, ‘Think about it, and make sure. Just make sure that’s exactly what you want to do. And if that’s what you want to do, I respect it. As good as you’ve been, I still think you can probably do it,’” Girardi said.
Girardi said he knows it’s difficult for an older player to attempt a comeback after hanging up his spikes, so he thinks it would be wise for Rivera to know for sure.
“I think it’s important that you let a player get away for a while and see what that feeling is when you’re away from the game a month, two months, and to see if that feeling changes. Because it’s hard to come back once you leave,” Girardi said.
Rivera struck out two of his three batters Tuesday night to reach 40 saves for the ninth time. That ties Trevor Hoffman for the major league record.
“I never wanted to think that, could I have played a little bit more? And it was really evident for me because I physically couldn’t stay healthy. Mo has seemed to be pretty healthy this year,” Girardi said. “It’s just a man who’s retired talking to another man who’s thinking about retiring. Just telling him my feelings on it, it’s not me lobbying him to come back.
“As I’ve said all along, I’ve never wanted a player to come back if he doesn’t want to come back. Because I want to make sure that his heart’s right when it’s time. I believe he’s going to retire, but as I’ve said, sometimes as a player when you’re in the midst of a season and you’re grinding it out, your mind is one thing, and when you get away for a couple of months and your body feels pretty good, your mind is another thing.”
But Rivera doesn’t sound like a guy who’s about to change his mind.
“I don’t tell anyone what to think or don’t think. I respect that,” he said. “But again, I made my decision.”
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