Mariano Rivera probably won’t pitch this season … but he could

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Brian Cashman and everyone with the Yankees has said that Mariano Rivera is out for 2012. Cashman said it as recently as yesterday. But as Joel Sherman reports in the New York Post, at least one person thinks Mo could come back this season: the doctor overseeing his rehab.

Dr. Keith Pyne says that Rivera’s timetable is not up to him, but that give how hard he has worked, how flexible and in shape he was at the time of the surgery and given that it was only a partially torn ACL and not a fully torn ACL, Rivera could very well successfully complete an accelerated timetable in his rehab.

Fun stuff and, yes, if Rivera could come back early it would be a hell of a story.  But it’s also the case that Rafael Soriano has been almost perfect taking his place and the Yankees have a seven game lead in the division, so there’s no need for Rivera to make a superhuman effort to return early.

Martin Maldonado and Willson Contreras say they’re willing to pay fines rather than follow new mound visit rule

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On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.

Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.