The baseball world had all season long to prepare, but it still seems wrong to utter the words, “Mariano Rivera will never pitch again.”
While the Yankees take on the Astros in their last series of the year, No. 42 is officially hanging up the cleats. Rivera announced that he will not be pitching in Houston, and despite the rumors, he will not be playing center field, either. Rivera said he has been battling soreness in his arm, and the pain will keep him from pitching or playing at all in Houston.
“I’m done, guys. I’m done. I gave everything that I have,” Rivera told reporters before Saturday’s game. “I think Thursday was the game that I left everything on the field … I don’t know how I got those two last outs in the ninth inning. I was giving everything. I left it there.”
The last memory fans will have of Mo on the mound will be Rivera’s emotional send-off at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. In one of the best exits in sports history, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte came out to pull him from the game with one out remaining in the ninth. Through tearful hugs, loud chants and one final ovation, the all-time saves leader walked off Yankee Stadium for the final time.
“I think I squeezed every ounce of fuel that I have in my tank,” Rivera said. “It’s empty. It’s nothing. I have nothing left. I give everything that I had, and I can say, I can go home and say, I used every talent that the Lord give me to play.”
Although he had Joe Girardi‘s blessing, Rivera ultimately decided against finishing up his career in the outfield. He had expressed interest in trying out the position earlier this week, but unfortunately his surgically-repaired knee will keep him from making the special appearance in center field.
“I did consider it strongly, if it would’ve been a few years earlier,” Rivera said. “I would’ve done it, but now my knee is not cooperating, and I don’t want to make a fool of myself out there. I respect the game too much for me to do something that I’m not supposed to do.”
Rivera will be honored once more this season as the Astros will put on a ceremony on Sunday, with Roger Clemens and Joe Torre expected to be on hand to close out his unbelievable 19-year career.