Five World Series rings and six-hundred saves later, legendary Yankees closer Mariano Rivera plans to call it a career after the upcoming season. Saturday morning around 10AM, the Yankees held a press conference in which Rivera addressed the press and informed them of his plans to retire following the 2013 season.
Rivera stated, “It is not too easy to come to a decision like this, retiring from the game that love. I did what I loved. I did it with passion. It has been an honor to wear the pinstripe uniform.” He later went on to say, “The last game, I hope, will be throwing the last pitch of the World Series.”
Rivera’s statement comes after a season in which he spent most of the season on the disabled list, recovering from a torn ACL. The injury took place last year on May 3rd at Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City after he fell awkwardly to the ground while shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice. Rivera did note that if his injury had not occurred last season, the 2012 campaign would have been his last. However, he could not leave the game on such a sour note.
By announcing his looming retirement prior to the start of the season (in the same way that Atlanta Braves 3rd baseman Chipper Jones did last year), cities across the country will have a chance to cherish the career and legacy of Rivera as the Yankees make their scheduled road trips. Rivera is considered one of the most respected and revered men in the game, and even his cross-town rival Mets and division rival Red Sox will surely pay their gratitude towards him for his contribution to the sport.
Even though Rivera’s sentiment towards his retirement is similar to that of Andy Pettitte two years ago, the Yankees do not believe that he will follow in Pettitte’s footsteps and make a return after a year removed from the game.
To demonstrate how dominant Rivera has been, his career accolades include: 12 All Star Game appearances, 5 Rolaids Relief Man Awards, an ALCS MVP award, a World Series MVP award, and 5 World Series Championships. Rivera is also the all-time saves leader both in the regular season (608) and postseason (42). He has had the most seasons with 30 or more saves (14), most consecutive seasons with 30 or more saves (9), and the most all-star appearances by a relief pitcher, among many other records.
With Rivera finally leaving his post as Yankees closer, the question of who will replace him in 2014 arises. The Yankees no longer have relief pitcher Rafael Soriano who filled in for Rivera so brilliantly last year with forty-two saves. Internally, the Yankees can look to setup-man David Robertson who initially took over closing duties last year following Rivera’s injury, before landing on the disabled list himself. If the Yankees do not feel that Robertson is up to the task, they can utilize free agency or the trading market to fill the position.