Mariano Rivera may get his chance to roam center field before he hangs up the cleats for good.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters Tuesday that he would “absolutely” consider letting his closer play an inning in the outfield during the team’s final series of the season in Houston.
Rivera will not have the opportunity to do so in his home ballpark, however. The Yankees host Tampa Bay on Thursday in their home finale — Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium. Girardi said he will not play Rivera out of position against the Rays, who continue to fight for one of the American League’s two wild card spots.
“These games are meaningful to Tampa,” Girardi said, according to ESPN’s Wallace Matthews.
Rivera often spends his time shagging balls during batting practice — a habit that resulted in him tearing his ACL last season — and an oral history of the closer’s career published in Sports Illustrated this week revealed that several former teammates and coaches believed he would have fared just fine as a major league outfielder.
Interestingly enough, if Rivera does get his shot, it will come in Houston, which boasts the most unorthodox outfield in the majors. Seeing the closer scale Tal’s Hill in center field would be quite the cherry on top of a legendary career.