JUPITER, Fla. — New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is expected to announce Saturday that he will retire after the coming season, according to sources.
The announcement will come at 10 a.m. ET from the Yankees’ spring training camp in Tampa, Fla. Rivera, who is coming off surgery to repair a torn ACL in his right knee, then will pitch against the Atlanta Braves. It will be Rivera’s first appearance this spring.
The New York Post initially reported Rivera’s decision.
Considered the greatest closer in baseball history, Rivera, 43, will retire as the all-time saves leader. He enters the 2013 season with 608 saves, seven more than Trevor Hoffman’s career total.
Rivera’s 42 postseason saves are nine more than the combined total of the next two on the list, Brad Lidge and Dennis Eckersley. Rivera has won five World Series rings with the Yankees, his only big league employer.
Earlier this week, Rivera returned to his home in New York for “personal reasons,” but the team would not say why. Rivera returned to camp on Thursday.
“He is the greatest closer of all time,” said Girardi, who declined to detail the contents of Saturday’s news conference. “There is no question in my mind. I have had the thrill of catching him. I was really there when he burst on to the scene and he was a dominant setup man, and then to see what he did as a closer was a thrill for me. I know there is a press conference on Saturday, and we’ll go from there.”
The thinking all spring has been that this season would be Rivera’s last. Rivera has always said he wanted to tell the people most important to him before making any announcements about his future.
There had been a feeling that Rivera would call it a career after 2012: In spring training last year, he had hinted that it might be his final season. After getting hurt, though, he vowed to return. He injured his knee while shagging balls in the outfield before a game in Kansas City last May.
For years now, Rivera has struggled with his desire to be home with family and devote even more time to his work with his church.
Almost a quarter century ago, on Feb. 17, 1990, Herb Raybourn, then the Yankees’ director of Latin America operations, signed Rivera as an undrafted free agent for $3,000. Rivera was not considered a top prospect until he developed what became his trademark cut fastball.
Rivera arrived in the majors in 1995. He started 10 games, going 5-3 with a 5.94 ERA. The Yankees decided he would be better as a reliever, and he was instrumental as the club’s setup man in the team’s 1996 run to the championship.
“I know as a player, I always counted backward, how many innings we needed from our starter because of what he was capable of doing,” Girardi said. “There were times when he was a setup man where he would give you more than two innings, so if you could get to the seventh, the game was over.”
In 1997, he became the Yankees’ closer. Rivera’s career ERA of 2.21 is the second-best in major league history among pitchers who have thrown 1,000 or more innings, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Eddie Cicotte’s 2.20 is the best.
“I think he is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, not just a closer,” Girardi said. “He is one of the greatest teammates of all time, and he is a lot of fun to catch.”