Injured Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw out the first pitch prior to Game 3 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium. (Al Bello/Getty Images)
It's been assumed that closer Mariano Rivera would return to the Yankees in 2013 after recovering from a season-ending ACL tear in May. ESPN's Andrew Marchand reports sources saying that Rivera is having second thoughts and considering retiring before the 2013 season.
I'm coming back," an emotional Rivera said in Kansas City a day after the injury. "Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I ain't going down like this."
Now, with his 43rd birthday next month and having worked very hard during his rehab to return, Rivera has the familiar tug that he has carried for many years of possibly wanting to stay home with his family and call it a career. Rivera has yet to inform the Yankees of his final intentions, according to sources.
On Wednesday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't quash the notion that Rivera, Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader, may not return during his end of the season press conference.
"From watching how he rehabbed and everything that he was going through, picked up a baseball sooner than he was supposed to and got his hand smacked a little bit, that would tell me that Mo probably wants to play," Girardi said. "But in saying that, it's a decision that I think he'll sit down with his family, evaluate where he is maybe a little bit later in this process and how he feels and how his arm feels to feel like you think you can compete at the same level he's always competed at. But I don't think that you push a rehab like he pushed it unless you think that you possibly have some interest in coming back."
If Rivera retires in the offseason, the Yankees could find themselves searching for a new closer. Rafael Soriano stepped in as Rivera's replacement and didn't skip a beat, closing 42 of 46 save opportunities. Soriano, however, can opt out of the final season of his Yankees contract and choose free agency
under the guidance of agent Scott Boras.