KANSAS CITY, Mo. — New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says he will return to the mound by 2013, vowing to overcome a knee injury that figures to end his season.
Rivera had hinted at the start of spring training that he would retire after the 2012 season, and he wasn’t sure what he would do after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament while shagging fly balls during batting practice Thursday.
Back at Kauffman Stadium on Friday, the 42-year-old closer firmly said he will not allow his career to end this way.
“I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this,” he said. “This has me thinking, I can’t go down like this. If it takes two, three, four, five, seven more (seasons), whatever it takes.”
Rivera dabbed tears from his eyes when he spoke Thursday night. He then went back to his hotel room, reflected and made his decision not to retire. He holds outside hope of returning late this season.
“Miracles happen,” he said. “I’m a positive man. The only thing is that I feel sorry I let down my teammates. Besides that I’m OK.”
Rivera’s leg caught on the field where the grass meets dirt Thursday, causing his knee to buckle. He fell into the outfield wall and down to the ground, where Rivera grimaced in pain as teammates and training staff ran out to see him.
Rivera was carted from the field and taken for an MRI exam.
Royals physician Dr. Vincent Key diagnosed a torn ACL after examining the scans of the knee.
Former Burke County star Jonathan Broxton, who pitches for Kansas City, was thinking about his fellow closer Thursday night.
“That’s horrible news,” Broxton said after learning the severity of the injury following the game. “As many saves as he’s been out there and as good an athlete as he is, I just hate for that bad news. All I can do is wish him the best.”