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Update at 5:18 p.m. ET. He'll Be Back:
"I can't go out like this."
That's what Mariano Rivera told the AP about an injury that many thought could end the greatest closer in baseball history's career.
The AP reports that Rivera said he would be back on the mound by 2013.
Our Original Post Continues:
Mariano Rivera, the greatest "closer" in Major League Baseball history, may have seen his career come to an end Thursday evening because of a knee injury he suffered as his New York Yankees were taking batting practice in Kansas City.
Rivera, 42, was chasing a fly ball in the outfield when his right knee buckled. The pitcher collapsed in pain, as video from the Yes Network shows. Later, the team reported that he tore an anterior cruciate ligament — " a devastating knee injury that could signal the end of his remarkable career," as The New York Times reports.
Rivera, speaking in a whisper, told reporters later that "at this point, I don't know" whether he'll play again. "Going to have to face this first. It all depends on how the rehab is going to happen, and from there, we'll see." Rehab from such an injury typically takes at least nine months.
According to the Times:
"For most of his 18 years with the Yankees, Rivera has been a fixture in center field during batting practice, along with the other pitchers, whose traditional duty is to retrieve fly balls. But Rivera always chased hits with more zeal and effort, including the one that led to his injury on Thursday.
"The ball was hit by Jayson Nix, who had been called up from Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replace the injured Eric Chavez."
Rivera's career statistics tell the story of his remarkable career. He holds the record for most saves, with 608. His career ERA is a low 2.21. As CBSSports.com points out, in three consecutive World Series (1998-2000), "Rivera went 18-for-18 in save opportunities, with a 0.65 ERA."
And, CBS says: "In 18 years with the Yankees, in a role where most have a roller-coaster existence, Rivera never had a bad season. His highest ERA since becoming a reliever was 3.15; his lowest save percentage was 83, and he was almost always at 87 percent or higher."
Sports Illustrated wrote in 2009 about how Rivera "found perfection in one unhittable pitch" — a "cut fastball" that dips and darts.
Closers are, as the word implies, the pitchers who come in at the end of games when their teams are leading and get the last few outs to "save" the win.