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Robertson Takes Replacing Legendary Rivera As Yankees Closer In Stride

Ex-Set-Up Man On Talks With Mo: 'He Knows I Can Do It, And I Think I Know I Can Do It'
David Robertson (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

David Robertson (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

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TAMPA, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Yankees reliever David Robertson is not overanalyzing his role as Mariano Rivera’s replacement.

Robertson is moving from an eighth-inning setup man to closer following Rivera’s retirement.

“It’s the same deal,” Robertson said Tuesday after a pre-spring training workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “Throwing the eighth or ninth inning, you’ve still got to get three outs. You’ve got to be effective. You can’t give up a lead. I’m not going to try to overthink the whole situation.”

Rivera has said that Robertson is the right man for the role. The former teammates spent time together last month at the New York baseball writers’ dinner.

“First thing he said is, ‘You scared?’” Robertson recalled. “I’m like, ‘No.’ It’s typical Mo. He’s all over my case already. I haven’t even thrown a pitch yet, and he’s on me. He knows I can do it, and I think I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of actually stepping out there and doing it.”

Given the chance to fill in as closer when Rivera injured a knee in 2012, Robertson strained muscle in his left ribcage. Rafael Soriano took over as closer for the rest of the season. Robertson went 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 70 games last year, striking out 77 in 66 1-3 innings.

“He’s been in some huge situations here,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He’s been around Mo. He’s in a good position to know what he has to do. He’s done everything that you could ask him to do to this point to become a closer. Now it’s just a matter of executing the pitches. Unless he gets overwhelmed by the situation, I don’t anticipate major problems.”

Rothschild also said CC Sabathia has increased his throwing program during the offseason to build up arm strength and stamina. Coming off elbow surgery to remove a bone spur in October 2012, Sabathia was 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA last year.

“The last couple winters, three or four really, he hasn’t been able to do a lot with going back to his knee and then the elbow last winter,” Rothschild said. “He’s been able to do a lot more this winter, so coming into spring training I think he’ll be in a little different place than he has been the last couple years.”

NOTES: Rothschild has had email communication with Japanese RHP Masahiro Tanaka. “There’s going to be adjustments he’s going to have to make,” Rothschild said. “He’s got the presence of mind to know what he needs to do to adjust when he gets here.” … SS Derek Jeter, limited to 17 games last season due to injuries, took 48 swings during his second day of batting practice.

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