Mariano Rivera wanted to make one thing absolutely clear. He was not ending his storybook career like this.
One day after suffering what is likely a season-ending ACL injury, the New York Yankees closer dug in and vowed to fight what could have been a career-ender for the 42-year-old Yankee legend.
“I’m coming back,” Rivera told reporters and later retweeted. “Write this down in big letters: I’m not going to go out like this.”
Rivera injured his knee while shagging down a fly ball during batting practice at Kauffman Stadium on Thursday.
Rivera’s knee buckled out from under him as he transitioned from the grass onto the warning track. He immediately crumpled to the ground, holding the knee.
Yankee officials originally called it a twisted knee. But after Rivera went to a local hospital for an MRI, the Yankees’ worst fears were realized.
New York should be without the services of Rivera for the 2012 season as torn ACLs typically take six to eight months to rehab. However, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that Rivera could recover sooner.
Milwaukee Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo suffered a similar injury on May 2, 2008. He threw his next pitch on September 25. Of course, Gallardo just 22 at the time and Rivera is almost double that. But even at 42 Rivera is widely regarded the best athlete on the Yankees, something that may be helpful during rehab.
“Thank you fans, friends and family for your prayers, well wishes and support,” Rivera tweeted to fans. “I will be OK. I will be back.”
Rivera, a 12-time All-Star, is considered one of the best relief pitchers in baseball history. He holds Major League record for saves (608) and has the second best WHIP in baseball history (0.998) bested only by Addie Joss (0.9678).
As good as Rivera has been in the regular season, he has been even better in the post season. The Yankee legend and last active player to wear No. 42 is 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA in 96 career postseason starts. He has recorded 42 postseason saves over 141 innings, walking 25 while striking out 110.
Rivera blew the save in New York’s opener against the Tampa Bay Rays this year, but rebounded to put up very Mariano Rivera-like numbers. He was 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA with five saves in nine games for the Yankees this season.