Yanks closer Rivera tears knee ligament
KANSAS CITY — Mariano Rivera’s career is in serious jeopardy after the New York Yankees closing pitcher tore a ligament in his right knee on Thursday.
Rivera, whose 608 saves are the most in Major League history, was hurt chasing a fly ball during batting practice before the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
By the time the game was over, he’d had an MRI scan at a hospital and said he had been diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn meniscus.
“I don’t know,” the 42-year-old hurler said when asked if he would be able to pitch again.
“It all depends how the rehab is going to happen. From there we’ll see,” added Rivera, who fought to control his emotions while speaking.
Rivera had hinted during spring training that this could be his final season, saying he had made up his mind about retirement but wasn’t yet ready to disclose his decision.
He has five saves in five opportunities and is 1-1 with a 2.16 earned run average in nine games this season.
He was hurt as he tried to catch a fly ball along the warning track. After his leap at the wall, his knee buckled and he immediately grabbed it in pain. He was helped off the field in a cart.
“I grabbed myself between the grass and the dirt. I couldn’t pull my leg up and twisted it (the knee),” Rivera said.
Rivera revealed that initially he thought the injury wasn’t severe.
“I thought it wasn’t that bad,” Rivera said. “I mean, I was walking a little bit. But it’s torn. I have to fix it.”
Utilityman Jayson Nix, called up from the minor leagues earlier Thursday, hit the ball Rivera tried to catch.
A television camera caught star slugger Alex Rodriguez saying “Oh my God” when he saw Rivera fall to the ground.
Rivera routinely shags batting practice balls as a way to stay fit and has said he wants to play an inning in the outfield before he retires.
Rivera has been remarkably free of injury in his career, landing on the disabled list just five times. The most recent was March 30-April 29 2003 when he had a strained right groin.