Rivera's season, possibly career, ends with injury

New York Yankees closing pitcher Mariano Rivera pitches against the Baltimore Orioles last month....

New York Yankees closing pitcher Mariano Rivera pitches against the Baltimore Orioles last month. (REUTERS)

The Sports Xchange

, Last Updated: 3:24 AM ET

KANSAS CITY, MO - Most people around baseball have been under the impression that Mariano Rivera would retire at the end of the 2012 season.

The end of Rivera’s career may have come Thursday night, as the closer suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a freak accident during batting practice.

Rivera was shagging fly balls in the outfield as he does before every game, but he came down awkwardly on his right leg after leaping for a ball, crumbling to the ground near the center field wall in Kansas City.

After being carted off the field, Rivera was examined by a Royals team doctor and diagnosed with a twisted knee, but an MRI revealed a torn ACL and torn meniscus, effectively ending the 42-year-old’s season.

“I thought it wasn’t that bad,” Rivera said. “I was walking a little bit. It’s torn. I have to fix it.”

Rivera said during spring training that he had made a decision about his future beyond the 2012 season, but he opted not to reveal those plans. Asked Thursday whether he thought he would pitch again, an emotional Rivera couldn’t answer the question.

“At this point, I don’t know,” Rivera said. “We have to face this first.”

David Robertson is the likely candidate to replace Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, though stepping into the shoes of the greatest closer who ever pitched will be a daunting task.

“You lose a Hall of Famer, it changes it a lot,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We like the depth of our bullpen, and it just got a little shorter. We’ll have to find a way to get through it.”

Could the injury have been prevented if Rivera had not been allowed to chase fly balls in batting practice?

“You can fall off the curb or down stairs and get hurt,” Girardi said.

Third baseman Alex Rodriguez said, “It’s obviously a huge loss. No one is going to feel for sorry for us. We’ve got five months to play. It’s hard to talk about it tonight. Guys have got to pick it up. Mo is Mo.”


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