TAMPA, Florida — Mariano Rivera confirmed he will retire at the end of the season and hopes the last pitch of his record-setting career closes another World Series victory with the New York Yankees.
Beside his wife and two kids and with the entire Yankees team looking on at a news conference on Saturday, the 43-year-old Rivera made clear how he wants his career to end.
“The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series,” he said. “Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition.”
Rivera, from Panama, said he knew the time was right for his decision. “I have just a few bullets left,” he said.
He then made his first game appearance since April 30, throwing a 1-2-3 fifth inning against Atlanta in the preseason. Looking like his overpowering self of old, Rivera retired Dan Uggla on a popup to second, then threw called third strikes past Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson.
Rivera holds the Major League Baseball saves record with 608 and has helped the Yankees win five World Series. He is regarded as the greatest closer of all time, whether he’s throwing his cut fastball in the regular season or postseason.
Rivera missed most of last year after tearing his right knee while catching flyballs during batting practice in May. Rivera said he would have retired at the end of last season if he had not been hurt.
“I didn’t want to leave like that,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to give everything.”
He also said he wanted to give Yankees fans around the major leagues a chance to see him one more time, knowing this will be the end.
“I’m actually appreciative that we get to enjoy him for one more year,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I think he’s prepared to go 100 percent. I think he’ll have a good year. It’s been a real treat for me. I was relaxed when he came into the game as a catcher, and I’m relaxed when he comes into the game as a manager, so that’s probably about the highest compliment you can pay a closer.”
The 12-time All-Star has earned a record 42 saves in the postseason while putting up an 0.70 ERA. He began his MLB career in 1995 and has spent his entire time with the Yankees.
Rivera said he will miss being on the field but not the long travel and many nights in hotels. He will be the last player to wear No. 42 — retired for Jackie Robinson by MLB in 1997 but allowed to remain for players using it at the time.
“Being the last player to wear No. 42 is a privilege,” he said.