- Last Updated: 8:57 AM, May 5, 2012
- Posted: 4:14 AM, May 5, 2012
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mariano Rivera didn’t want a brilliant career to end on a dirt warning track at Kauffman Stadium.
One day after suffering a torn ACL and meniscus damage to his right knee shagging batting practice fly balls, the Yankees closer announced his career isn’t over and that he will attempt a comeback for the 2013 season.
“I am coming back. Put it down,” Rivera said. “Write it down. In big letters.’’
With a wide smile, and joking around with reporters, Rivera sat in front of his locker before the Yankees’ 6-2 win over the Royals and said he made the decision overnight in his hotel room.
“When you love the game and you like to compete, it would be tough to go out like this,” the all-time saves leader said. “I can’t go down like this.”
With the aid of the Steinbrenner family jet, Rivera will return to New York today and map out surgery plans Monday with Dr. Chris Ahmad. Although Rivera hasn’t completely ruled out pitching again this season, it is an extremely long shot because the recovery time from the extensive surgery ranges from five to 12 months depending on the patient and how the rehab program goes.
Rivera didn’t know who will do the surgery, but he is comfortable with Mets team doctor David Altchek, who operated on his right shoulder following the 2008 season. Rivera talked with Altchek yesterday.
Rivera’s camp also has contacted Dr. Richard Steadman in Colorado.
“[Altchek] mentioned three, four months, five months [until he can start working out], depends on how I can take it,” Rivera said. “He did my shoulder before. I’m a quick healer. That’s good. That’s all good.”
Rivera said, prior to the injury, he hadn’t fully decided to retire after this season. He was thinking that through, he said, “but now, everything is out the window.”
Rivera, 42, will be a free agent after this year. He expressed confidence the Yankees would want him back.
“Oh, yeah. They will want the old goat,” he said.
At what price? Rivera will be 43 by next spring training and coming off reconstructive knee surgery in a season during which he made $15 million. And what happens if David Robertson evolves into an elite closer and a much cheaper option?
It would be hard to believe the Yankees wouldn’t want Rivera back, but dollars matter and it is unclear what salary Rivera would seek.
Before last night’s Rivera addressed his teammates.
“He said, ‘Don’t change anything and don’t feel sorry for me,’ ” Robertson said. “ ‘I am going to come back.’ ’’
That jibed with what Rivera told reporters he was going to do.
“I’m just going to give them encouragement that I trust them and believe in them,” he said. “They can do the job. They will do the job.”
Joe Girardi said he will use Rafael Soriano and Robertson in closing roles depending on the workload of each right-hander. Last night the manager used Robertson to pitch the ninth in a non-save situation.
The news Rivera plans on coming back next year was met with anticipation.
“It’s great news,’’ said Alex Rodriguez. “It’s surprising, very. It’s super, for me selfishly because I love Mo and for the organization. I have never seen a guy who does so good at what he does.’’
Mark Teixeira said he wasn’t convinced Rivera was going to retire after the season before the injury.
“I was thinking he was coming back anyway, I didn’t believe he was going to retire,’’ Teixeira said. “He is still one of the best players in the game. It’s great to hear and it will be good for his rehab, something for him to look forward to.’’
Derek Jeter was happy to hear the news that Rivera will try to return, but stressed there are almost five months left in this season.
“Everyone is happy to hear that, but we can’t sit around and wait,” the captain said. “Injuries are unfortunate. Injuries happen. But we still have work to do and jobs to do. We can’t count the days.”