Mariano Rivera and his family walked into the pavilion behind the third-base stands at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla., followed by his New York Yankees’ teammates.
It was the start of the long goodbye for baseball’s greatest closer.
Dressed in a dark jersey top and pinstriped uniform pants, Rivera announced what already had leaked out in prior days: This will be his 19th and final major-league season.
And the 43-year-old has a clear vision of how he wants his career to end.
“The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series,” he said. “Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition.”
Rivera said he made the decision before arriving at spring training. With the entire Yankees’ team looking on — including longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte — Rivera said he knew the time was right for his decision. Rivera sat a table and team officials, led by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and manager Joe Girardi, sat nearby.
“I have just a few bullets left,” he said.
He then made his first game appearance since April 30, throwing 15 pitches during a 1-2-3 fifth inning against Atlanta. Looking like his overpowering self of old, Rivera retired Dan Uggla on a popup to second, then threw called third strikes past Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.
“It was great to be on the mound again,” Rivera said with a big smile.
Rivera jogged onto the field from the right-field bullpen to a standing ovation, then left the mound to another loud ovation. He called the whole day “overwhelming.”
“It’s wonderful,” Rivera said. “I can’t ask for more than that.”
World Baseball Classic
Team USA has a lineup full of MVPs and All-Stars, and sent out the reigning NL Cy Young winner for its opening game of the World Baseball Classic on Friday night in Phoenix.
A fierce brawl that saw Alfredo Aceves and several players throw nasty punches erupted Saturday in the ninth inning of Canada’s 10-3 romp over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic in a melee that also involved fans. The fights broke out after Canada’s Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch from Arnold Leon with Canada leading 9-3
All those hitters couldn’t do much of anything against Mexico’s string of pitchers, and the Cy Young winner fell flat.
Now the Americans have to win or they could be headed home after the opening round for the first time at the WBC.
Adrian Gonzalaz hit a two-run homer off U.S. starter R.A. Dickey, seven pitchers kept the Americans’ bats in check and Mexico rebounded from a opening loss with a 5-2 win in Pool D on Friday night.
Indians catcher Carlos Santana homered, Robinson Cano had three hits and the Dominican Republic beat Spain 6-3 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The Dominican team improved to 2-0 in Group C.
Santana and Nelson Cruz each drove in two runs for the Dominican Republic. Edwin Encarnacion scored twice.
After 15 scoreless innings, Spain scored its first run of the tournament in the seventh and then added two in the ninth before Fernando Rodney picked up a save.
Samuel Deduno pitched four scoreless innings and struck out five for the win.
Yasmany Tomas hit a three-run homer to help Cuba rout Taiwan 14-0 in the second round in Tokyo.