According to CBS Sports on Thursday, manager Joe Girardi is "absolutely" considering letting the all-time saves leader (652, to be exact) play an inning in the outfield during the team's last series this weekend. Rivera, 43, has some hefty experience shagging fly balls in the outfield during practice and said in a recent interview that he had requested a chance to play in center several years ago but also acknowledged that his knee problems have put a damper on that.
That dream just might come to fruition, even if for a short time. Rivera was set to pitch last night against Tampa Bay regardless of the score, but Girardi did not want to put him in center field with the Rays still in a wild card hunt. Since the Yankees travel to Houston this weekend to take on the Astros and the score will not matter to either team, the door is open for Rivera to log an inning off the mound and add a (tiny) line to his illustrious career stats.
As the New York Times baseball blog points out, however, playing in center field at Minute Maid Park in Houston presents a unique challenge. The outfield features a 90-foot-wide hill with a 30-degree incline and a flag pole smack dab in the middle. The architectural oddity is indigenous to Minute Maid and is dubbed Tal's Hill.
“Yeah, I’m going to try to warn him about it,” Girardi said. “Hopefully, we don’t give any balls up on that hill. If so, just go get and see if he can throw him out.”
The Yankees will take on the Astros in a three-game series starting tonight at 8:10 p.m. EST.