TAMPA, Fla. — Mariano Rivera indicated on Monday that 2012 could be his final year in the major leagues, saying he won’t announce his long-term plans until after the season.
The 42-year-old closer for the New York Yankees said he has reached a decision about whether he will return in 2013, but he won’t reveal it until “maybe October.”
“I know,” he said. “I’ll tell you when I’m ready.”
Rivera, the career saves leader with 603, is signed through this season. After the retirements of Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada, Rivera and 37-year-old Derek Jeter are the only remaining players from the core group that led the Yankees’ resurgence.
“My kids want me home,” Rivera said. “They were ready for me to stay home. I had to tell them, I have a job to do. I have obligations.”
Should he retire, Rivera has many interests away from baseball.
“I have my church, my family,” he said. “I’ve been blessed in amazing ways. I have a great career, but at the same time, there’s other things to do.”
Rivera played catch with reliever Rafael Soriano during the Yankees’ first workout of the year. When asked whether he was as excited as he was in his first big league camp almost 20 years ago, Rivera responded: “Believe it.”
“You come here to compete,” he said. “I love to compete. I don’t come here for a free ride. I’m come here to get ready: the playoffs, the World Series, that’s the goal.”
Rivera was 1-2 with 44 saves in 49 chances and a 1.91 ERA last season. He was selected for his fourth consecutive All-Star appearance and his 12th overall.
Rivera had an eventful off-season, undergoing surgery in December to remove polyps from his vocal chords.
“It did scare me,” he said. “It did change a lot of things. It shows you how quick you can be gone. How important not to overlook anything. It could be cancer. I was relieved when everything came back negative.”
Rivera wasn’t able to talk for a week after the operation,
“Not being able to speak, I was going crazy,” he said, “but at the same time you appreciate that.”
The Yankees will be welcoming a new designated hitter to the team.
Raul Ibanez agreed to a $1.1 million, one-year contract Monday that allows him to make $2.9 million more in performance bonuses.
The 39-year-old outfielder, who played with Philadelphia the past three seasons, is expected to be the Yankees’ primary designated hitter against right-handed starting pitchers.