It was reported earlier this week that Mariano Rivera intends to retire following the 2013 season, but he made it official this morning at a press conference at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa.
In a room packed with teammates, members of the front office and the media, Rivera started by joking that Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave him a two-year extension, but he soon cut to the chase.
“I’d love to tell you guys that after this year, I will be retired,” said Rivera, who called it a “privilege and honor” to spend his entire career in pinstripes.
Rivera confirmed today that he originally intended to retire after the 2012 season, but his plans changed after he suffered a season-ending right knee injury in May. While he turned 43 in November, he wants to go out on his own terms. He issued a warning to opposing hitters during the press conference, saying that he has a few bullets left, but intends “to use them well.” He’ll get started this afternoon when he makes his Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.
Rivera, a 12-time All-Star, owns a 2.21 ERA over his 18-year career and ranks first all-time with 608 career saves. He has an 0.70 ERA in 96 postseason games.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.