Mariano Rivera making progress following vocal cord surgery

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Mariano Rivera hasn’t had any setbacks since undergoing surgery early last month to remove polyps on his vocal cords. In fact, he spent a couple hours earlier today coaching some youth players during a clinic at the Frozen Ropes baseball facility in Pine Brook, New Jersey.

According to Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger, the all-time saves leader has been speaking regularly for a couple weeks now and has one more follow-up appointment with doctors during which he hopes to get cleared to begin preparations for the season.

“I was worried about something else, even though the doctor says it doesn’t look like it,” Rivera said on Saturday morning, in his first public comments since undergoing throat surgery on Dec. 2. “But I had peace when the results came and everything was negative. Thank God, everything’s good. I’m just trying to get ready for spring training.”

Rivera, 42, posted a 1.91 ERA, 44 saves and a 60/8 K/BB ratio over 61 1/3 innings last season. While he continues to defy age and build on his reputation as the best relief pitcher ever, he has yet to declare his intentions beyond 2012.

Cubs to activate Craig Kimbrel on Thursday

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The Cubs will activate reliever Craig Kimbrel ahead of Thursday afternoon’s game against the Braves, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports.

Kimbrel, 31, ended a seven-month stint in free agency, agreeing to a three-year, $43 million contract with the Cubs earlier this month. He has made four minor league appearances, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

With an aggregate 3.96 ERA entering Wednesday, the Cubs’ bullpen has been among the better bullpens in the league. Adding Kimbrel, one of the greatest closers of all-time, certainly can’t hurt and will give them some stability in save situations.