Yankees having fun with Mariano Rivera’s return to Kansas City
Photo credit: Kent Klooster, MLB.com
Mariano Rivera jogged out to the spot where his career nearly ended 12 months ago, looked down, and smiled.
A prankster from the Yankees’ clubhouse had painted a white chalk outline of Rivera’s body on the warning track, while a banner adorned with stop signs and yellow caution tape fluttered from the outfield wall reading: “No Mo Zone.”
Rivera posed in front of the wall for a photo, grabbing his right knee in mock pain. He said that he expected to hear some good-natured ribbing from his teammates as he returned to Kauffman Stadium, the Yanks’ first trip back since Rivera tore his right ACL before a May 3, 2012 game against the Royals.
“The only thing that will come back to me is just knowing that I got hurt there,” Rivera said. “But I mean, I will enjoy it definitely because that moment and seeing where I am right now, that’s what is gratifying. I’m thanking the Lord for me being here.”
Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who was one of the first on the scene when Rivera crumpled in pursuit of a Jayson Nix fly ball on that afternoon last May, is believed to have been one of the leading pranksters to dress up the left-center field area on Friday.
The adornments were removed by the time the Yankees’ batting practice session concluded, and manager Joe Girardi said that he didn’t expect his thoughts would drift to Rivera’s injury much during the course of Friday’s game.
“Not really,” Girardi said. “You see guys get injured all the time in different ballparks and I know Mo is not just your everyday guy, I understand that. I’m sure the guys will have a little fun with it today and then try to put it behind us.”