Mariano Rivera ready for his final Opening Day
NEW YORK – Mariano Rivera laughed and said he knew the question was coming. Hours before the Yankees and Red Sox opened their regular seasons at Yankee Stadium, the all-time saves leader confirmed that he indeed did shag fly balls in the outfield.
“I was waiting for that one,” Rivera said. “Yes, I did. It felt good. I didn’t go full strength, but I will at some point. It feels good. I will continue doing it, like I said. I won’t change anything. It happened and you just have to move on.”
It has been a long road back for Rivera from last May 3, when he crumpled to the warning track at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium in pursuit of a batting practice fly ball, tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament.
The injury interrupted Rivera’s plans of retiring after the 2012 season, and he has now made his decision public to call it a career after he and the Yankees are done in 2013. Rivera said that what will be his last Opening Day has not felt very different than the others, but he has certainly heard the pleas that have filtered in from the grandstands.
“The fans definitely don’t want me to retire,” Rivera said. “They want me to continue. Players, not too much interacting; I was in Spring Training on Field 3 so I didn’t see them too much. During the season, it might happen. Again, it’s a decision that was made based on what I have left, what I need to give, and just move on.”
Rivera said that he also has not given much thought to what Opening Day will be like for him and the Yankees next season. Rivera has been a staple in pinstripes for nearly two decades, but he promised that when the day comes that he is not present, there will be no regrets.
“I can’t think about tomorrow,” Rivera said. “Next season I’ll be home. I really don’t think like that. My mind doesn’t go that far. It’s in the present and what I have to do now. I don’t know about tomorrow. Now is what I have to think and this is where I am. I have to enjoy this one and see what happens tomorrow.”