Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera out for the year, plans on returning in 2013

If Mariano Rivera were to retire today he would be a first ballot inductee into the Hall of Fame.  There is no questioning that.  Rivera’s season-ending knee injury came in a surprising way.  But that will not deter the pitcher from returning to his thrown as the game’s best closer for one more season.

The 12-time All-Star warmed up before games as he always had, shagging fly-balls in the outfield during batting practice.  On Thursday, before the New York Yankees faced off against the Kansas City Royals, Rivera lunged for a ball near the warning track.  As he planted on his right leg his knee buckled sending the 42-year-old closer to the ground in excruciating pain.  The end result, a torn ACL and damage to his meniscus.

Rivera was planning on retiring at the end of the 2012 season, but the injury has postponed that.  In one statement the closer put away thoughts that he was still going to retire.  It’s obvious this is not the way he wants to end his career.

”I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this,” Rivera said.

I love to play the game,” Rivera said. “I don’t think, to me, going out like this is the right way. … I don’t think like that. With the strength of the Lord, I have to continue.”

Once the swelling goes down, Rivera will have surgery on the knee.  There is no way to avoid it and Dr. David Altcheck in New York rejected the idea of finishing the season pitching in a knee brace.  Rivera has not been placed on the disabled list since 2003 when he suffered a groin injury.

Three months after the surgery Rivera will be able to start rehabbing the knee doing the some light jogging and walking.  Around three months after that he will then be able to start throwing.  Rivera hopes to be back to pitching by the time spring training starts.

For a man at his age, Rivera is in tremendous shape.  He is one of the hardest working players in the game when it comes to conditioning and taking care of his body.  And the fact that he injured his push off leg and not his landing leg will help his chances even more for a full recovery.  He is also not like a normal 42 year old where the recovery time would be longer and may not reach 100 percent.

“There aren’t many guys still playing professional sports at his age. His body obviously has great healing potential. If anybody is going to get back from fixing an ACL, it’s going to be Mariano Rivera,” Dr. Struan Coleman said.

Rivera will be 43-years-old when the 2013 season gets started.  Even though he is in the final year of his contract now, he hopes that if he is100 percent healthy, the Yankees will give him one more year to end his Hall of Fame career.

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