The New York Yankees held their collective breath on Thursday night after all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera twisted his right knee during a freak injury in batting practice and was carted off the field at Kauffman Stadium. He received a MRI from the Royals doctors in Kansas City and their findings were not good. The 42-year-old has a torn ACL and meniscus that will likely end his season and possibly his Hall of Fame-caliber career if Yankees doctors confirm the findings once he returns to New York.
“It’s torn,” Rivera told reporters after the game. “I have to fix it.”
Rivera hasn’t been on the disabled list since 2003. But his first significant injury in almost a decade occurred as he stumbled on the warning track while shagging fly balls — a normally-routine activity all pitchers are required to do — and fell to the ground. Teammates were stone-faced as Rivera was driven off the field in a cart.
After the game — a 4-3 loss to the Royals — reporters tweeted that Rivera had tears in his eyes and said that he didn’t know if he’d ever pitch again. Manager Joe Girardi said he wasn’t second-guessing Rivera’s shagging as he’s performed the task hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times without incident. This, Girardi said, was the very definition of a freak injury.
“Shagging, I love to do,” Rivera said. “If I could do it again, I’d do it again.”
Though the Yankees have other capable relievers such as David Robertson, along with expensive ones such as Rafael Soriano, nobody in history has been better at the end of games than Rivera, who has 608 career saves, a 2.21 ERA and 12 All-Star appearances since his rookie season in 1995. And that doesn’t count a nearly flawless postseason record (except for Game 7 of the World Series in 2001). If this is really it for Rivera’s career, it will rank as one of the cruelest goodbyes in baseball history.
He’s the Sandman, the Godfather, Super Mariano, Mo. A giant of the game. The kind of player who, even though he plays for the hated (by many) Yankees, manages to elicit goodwill from pretty much everybody. Rivera hinted during spring training that this would be his final season. But again, if this is the end, it would be an awful shame.
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Mariano Rivera tears ACL during freak injury in batting practice