Given that Mariano Rivera indicated he had already made a decision about his status for 2013 going into the spring, most assumed 2012 would be his last year. He wasn’t willing to reveal anything publically at the time, but speculation was that he’d announce his retirement in July.
We know that won’t happen now, as Rivera has confirmed he’ll return in 2013 following his season-ending knee injury. The surprise, though, is that it appears he intended to pitch next year all along:
I was leaning toward coming back. I was feeling strong on that. It’s hard. I was weighing how I feel, the traveling, the games, and it’s the same. The traveling, I hate it; the playing, I love it. I was torn between that.
It is pretty interesting the way he puts it, given that he termed it this spring as though his decision was made. Still, it sounds as though we were going to get mo’ Mo all along.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.