Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera was all smiles at a news conference Saturday… (Kathy Willens / Associated…)
Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees' future Hall of Fame reliever who returned this season after a major knee injury, confirmed the worst-kept secret in spring camp Saturday morning when he announced that he'll retire at the end of the 2013 season -- preferably doing what no other reliever in the history of baseball has done, saving the World Series-clinching game.
“It's not too easy when you come to a decision like this,” Rivera said surrounded by family and teammates at a news conference in Tampa, Fla. “After this year, I will be retired .... Now you're hearing it from me. It's official now.”
When he hangs up his jersey, the No. 42 -- now retired by Major League Baseball in honor of Jackie Robinson -- will also be a thing of the past.
“Being the last player to wear No. 42 is a privilege,” said Rivera, a 12-time All-Star who has a record 42 saves in the postseason.
“I don't feel myself [as] the greatest of all time. I'm a team player. I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others.”
Rivera, 43, has been there for the Yankees since he broke into the majors in 1995. He has a record 608 saves in 1,051 appearances and has helped New York win five World Series. He enters this season with a record of 76-58 and a 2.21 earned-run average.
The right-hander from Panama pitched in nine games last season, saving five, before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 3 while performing a pregame ritual -- shagging fly balls during batting practice.
His dream scenario?
“The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series,” Rivera said. “Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition.”
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