Rivera won't play CF vs. Astros

Rivera won't play CF vs. Astros
September 28, 2013, 6:45 pm
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Mariano Rivera signs autographs before Saturday night's game.

(Richard Dean)

Retiring Mariano Rivera, the all-time saves leader with 652, put to rest any speculation that he might play center field for the Yankees in the series with the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

“I’m done, I’ve got nothing left,” said Rivera, who was besieged by autograph seekers prior to Saturday’s game. “I’ve completely emptied my tank.

“I’m not playing center field. I respect the game too much. My knee is hurt. If I was healthy I would have been out there.”

The fact that Rivera may not pitch in Houston didn’t matter to the hundreds of fans who lined up to see the greatest closer in baseball history, or to perhaps get an autograph.

The gracious Rivera did his best to please the fans, signing autograph after autograph. Rivera, who had announced that the 2013 season would be the last of an illustrious major league career, showed why he’s one of the most popular players in baseball.

“I spent a lot of time signing because it was the least I could do,” said Rivera. “Thank you. It’s been amazing, spectacular.”

It’s 43-year-old Rivera who has been spectacular. The Yankees have gone 686-46 all-time in games in which Rivera had a save opportunity. Rivera has reached the 40-saves plateau this season for a ninth time.

When Rivera got his first save on May 17, 1996, the top television show was “ER.” The most popular song was Los Del Rio’s “Macarena.” The top movie at the box office in 1996 was “Independence Day.” Gas cost $1.30 per gallon and a postage stamp was 32 cents.

As for his future, Rivera said, “Rest and rest and rest and more rest.”

Rivera made his last pitching performance on Sept. 26 versus Tampa Bay at Yankee Stadium, retiring all four batters he faced.

“I don’t know how I got those last outs in the ninth inning,” said Rivera. “I knew I was done. I was pitching hurt, tremendous soreness. I tried to put ice on in the eighth inning but it wasn't loosening up.”

The Astros will hold a special ceremony for Rivera during Sunday’s pregame ceremonies. Former Yankees manager Joe Torre and Yankees teammate Roger Clemens are scheduled to participate in Rivera’s ceremony.

Rivera will be presented with a 60-inch by 40 inch painting by sports artist Opie Otterstad, commissioned by the Astros. It will be in the configuration of Rivera’s uniform No. 42. The painting features 13 panels depicting significant moments in his career.

Rivera made six appearances versus the Astros, all in New York. Of 16 batters, Brandon Barnes is the only Astro to get a hit off Rivera. Rivera’s only appearance at Minute Maid Park was the 2004 All-Star Game.

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