Two weeks after officially returning to the Yankees on a one-year, $10 million deal Mariano Rivera made it very clear that he expects to be fully recovered from knee surgery by Opening Day.
“Oh, yeah, I don’t see why not,” Rivera said, via Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. “We have at least three months, four months until that point. I’ll be ready.”
Rivera noted that he hasn’t started throwing regularly yet, but added that he’s “feeling good” and “the leg’s getting stronger and stronger.”
Because the Yankees are not expected to re-sign fill-in closer Rafael Soriano they’re definitely counting on Rivera being healthy and effective in 2013, but David Robertson is still around as a potentially excellent closer if things don’t go totally according to plan.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.