Mariano Rivera says his knee feels “95 percent”

Mariano Rivera isn’t quite ready to get on a mound and dust off his famous cutter, but that day is quickly approaching. The all-time saves leader said that he expects to resume throwing in about a week, estimating that his surgically repaired right knee is now “95 percent” healed.

“It’s not 100 percent. It would be, I would say, 95 percent,” Rivera said. “By the time Spring Training starts, it’ll feel 100 percent … It needs more strengthening. The five percent will come quick.”

Rivera spoke on Saturday at the Frozen Ropes baseball academy in Danbury, Conn., where he worked with a group of about 150 children on the basics of his craft. Some of the children were from nearby Newtown, Conn., a community struggling to recover following last month’s shooting tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“We didn’t try to get into it,” Rivera said. “We just tried to run it smooth and make sure they were comfortable. There were a few kids from there, and we want to make sure we made them feel comfortable and not try to treat them differently. I think that was for the best.”

Rivera said he expects a “normal” Spring Training, which for him likely means a slightly later arrival to Yankees camp in Tampa, Fla. Rivera generally only tosses a handful of innings in the Grapefruit League, so he expects no difficulty being ready for Opening Day on April 1 against the Red Sox.

“I’ll make sure when I get there, I’ll be ready,” Rivera said.

He added that he isn’t worried about the Yankees’ moves – or lack thereof – this winter, even though the Blue Jays in particular appear to have improved in an already tough American League East.

“We have to do our jobs. If we do that, we’ll be OK,” Rivera said. “I’m not worried about other teams and whatever they do. We just have to compete.”

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