Photo courtesy of PAUL J. BERESWILL, NY Post
To say the depth of the New York Yankees bullpen is being tested would be a massive understatement. Just weeks after losing Mariano Rivera to a season ending knee injury, the Yankees must endure an injury to set-up man turned closer David Robertson for a minimum of 15 days – the least amount of time an injured player must stay on the DL. The Yankees placed Robertson on the 15-day DL with a strained left oblique prior to yesterday’s game at Baltimore.
Robertson and the Yankees don’t seem to think it’s too severe and are encouraged that the injury was caught early without it getting worse but as manager Joe Girardi pointed out, oblique injures can be tricky.
“We don’t think it’s too severe but it’s hard to tell, obliques can be tricky. We expect him not to pick up a baseball for probably seven to 10 days and then we’ll see where we are after that.” – Joe Girardi
One would think that the closers job would fall on the shoulder of Rafael Soriano who led the American League with 45 saves in 2010 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays before joining the Yankees the following season. Soriano was designed to be the Yankees primary 7th inning reliever coming into the season but with the injures to Rivera–and now Robertson, Soriano is the man in the ninth. A telling sign of just how much the Yankees bullpen depth is being tested.
“We are testing our depth and time’s going to tell if we can sustain what we’re doing, They’ve done a good job so far. You look at the job those guys have done there, they’ve been really, really good. I think the distance from your starters becomes maybe a little more important now.” - Joe Girardi
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Now that Soriano is the closer – at least until – Robertson is healthy, does he feel he needs to alter his thinking or his approach?
“You know, to me, I don’t think nothing changed, sometimes, something happens like that and you got to keep going, because we lost Mariano first and the bullpen tried to do whatever it had to do. Now, with two guys down, it’s not going to be easy for us. We’re trying to be together, the bullpen and the team, and win.” - Rafael Soriano
The Yankees have no choice but to keep going and they surely will. Things may get better before too much longer because injured relievers Joba Chamberlain and David Aardsma are both recovering from Tommy John surgery and could factor in the bullpen mix sometime over the course of the second half of the season. Aardsma told me via Twitter that he’s “hoping for a July return”. Chamberlain’s return date is a bit more uncertain due to the ankle injury he sustained in late March playing with his son on a trampoline. Chamberlain has said that he fully expects to pitch for the Yankees in 2012 and the Yankees are optimistic as well. Seven weeks have passed since the incident occurred, and he is already walking without a boot. To protect his ankle while moving around, he now uses a basketball ankle brace. He and the Yankees believe he is ahead of schedule but insists they aren’t going to rush anything.
For now, the Yankees will have to pick up the pieces and move forward and hope that no other troops in the bullpen take a hit due to injury.
A few seconds after I published my thoughts on the season ending knee injury to Mariano Rivera, I heard Yankees play-by-play announcer Michael Kay announce the news on his radio show.
Immediately, I went to Twitter and saw the message with my own eyes.
Well there you have it. Mariano Rivera just said he will absolutely pitch again. He’s determined to not let his career end like this.
Courtesy of Conor Orr from the he Star-Ledger:
“I’m coming back,” he said. “Write it down in big letters.”
Rivera was on crutches today and said that he’s heard he could be back to work in 3-5 months. He would not rule out pitching this season but said if everything goes right he’ll be completely ready by spring training next year.
He plans on telling his teammates as a group, something he hadn’t done by the time the clubhouse opened to the media.
Rivera said he decided late Thursday night in his hotel room and that he will fly back to New York Saturday.
“You don’t go out like this,” Rivera said.
He was optimistic that he could breeze through the recovery process.
“I’m a quick healer so that’s good. It’s all good.”
Rivera, though, was unclear on whether it was his initial plan to play next year anyway, or if the injury motivated him to play another season.
“Miracles happen miracles happen, guys,” he said. “I’m OK, I’m a positive man and I’m OK. The only thing is I feel sorry I let down my teammates.”
I’ll have more later on.
Since the end of the 1995 season I have had the privilege of seeing Mariano Rivera pitch. For most of my adult life Mariano Rivera has been a constant presence at the end of Yankees games.
Last night Mariano Rivera was injured doing something he’s done since he was 20 years old. Rivera was going through his usual pre-game routine – shagging fly balls in the outfield during batting practice – when suddenly his foot got caught between the edge of the grass and the warning track. Just like that, in an instant, Mariano went down in a heap and was carted off the field.
The Yankees closer was carted off the field and sent for further tests. (AP Photo/YES Network) MANDATORY CREDIT
The initial diagnosis was a twisted knee but I knew it was much worse. I held out hope that it wasn’t the worst case scenario but in the pit of my stomach I knew it was as bad as it looked.
The harsh reality of the situation set in during the post-game coverage on the YES Network. For the first time that I can remember, Mariano Rivera looked human. He stood at his locker and spoke to reporters while his eyes filled with tears. He did his best not to cry as he responded to reporters.
Does this freak injury mean the end of the line for baseball’s greatest closer?
“At this point, I don’t know,” Rivera said. “We have to face this first. … All that depends on how the rehab is going to happen. From there, we’ll see. I want to think and pray a little bit before I make decisions of whatever happens.”
For all of the people who want me to point fingers and place blame on Joe Girardi or other people within the Yankees organization, just stop it! Those thoughts, ideas, and assumptions have no merit on the situation. Forget about the fact that Rivera has shagged fly balls during pre-game warm-ups every day for the last 20 years. This is about a man loving every aspect of what he does. Shagging fly balls was as important to Rivera’s conditioning and preparation before each game as bullpen sessions are to other pitchers. Think about it, for all of the idiotic things that professional athletes do away from the field such as riding a motorcycle without a helmet or shooting yourself in the leg or even engaging in a pickup basketball game knowing full well your contract prohibits it. Mariano Rivera would never even think about doing any of those stupid things that would have jeopardized his career or the well-being of his teammates. Simply put, Rivera was injured or something he loved and something that was a crucial to his daily preparation.
It wasn’t just Mariano’s physical ability to throw a baseball that set him apart from others. Mariano had a grace and an elegance about him that was so special and nothing short of genuine.There are countless examples of this from Rivera over the years but perhaps none greater than his message to the critics who say he shouldn’t have been allowed to shag fly balls in the outfield given his advanced age.
“I don’t want to have it any other way. If it’s going to happen like that, it happened doing what I love to do. Shagging, I love to do it. If I had to do it over again, I would do it again with no hesitation. There are reasons why it happened, so you have to take the way it is and fight through it. Now we just have to fight.”
And there you have it… a message straight from the man himself. ” if I had to do it again I would do it with no hesitation.”
Even still, is this how the career of a first ballot Hall of Famer and the greatest closer ever play the game is going to end?
It can’t, at least not like this.
He deserves something more, if not a victory lap around the majors, at least a better exit than riding out on the back of a cart in Kansas City. He faces an uncertain future – who knows if his 42-year-old body can recover from major knee surgery – but he owes it to himself to try. This is too cruel an exit. It doesn’t matter if you love the Yankees or hate them, it doesn’t matter if you have a passing interest in baseball or live and die with the sport, there’s no way else to put this.
What happened yesterday stinks. Maybe you have a more eloquent way to put that, but I don’t. It was cruel. It was unfair. Mariano Rivera was shagging fly balls during batting practice like he’s done hundreds – thousands? – of times before. He takes one awkward step on the warning track and crumbles to the ground, grabbing his knee immediately and writhing in pain.
I try and take a step back and look at what this means for the Yankees today in the short term but I can’t. This is about today.
Athletes rarely get to go out on their own terms, but it sure looked like the Yankees closer was on his way. He had set the all-time saves record and was padding his lead, looking as good in his early 40s as he did in his 20s. He didn’t directly say that this would be his last season when he answered the inevitable questions in spring training, but he everything else he said seemed to make that clear. Rivera had talked about the pull of spending time with his family, about accomplishing everything he wanted to in the sport.
Just as I did earlier on my Facebook and twitter page, I don’t believe this will be the end for Mariano Rivera. I believe in my heart that he will not go out like this. Sure,the rehab won’t be easy. He’ll be 43 by the time spring training rolls around again. There are no guarantees that he’d recover to be the dominant closer he’s been in the Bronx for 15 years.
Still -Mariano Rivera owes it to himself to try. After 1,051 appearances, 608 saves, five championships and one unmatched legacy, it would be wrong for it to end this way. Love the Yankees or hate them, that’s one thing everyone should agree on.
Tell me what you think. In the wake of the knee injury suffered by New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera, do you think he’ll return next season?
Please vote on the poll
Mariano Rivera says Monday that he wants to ‘leave the game on top.’ (COREY SIPKIN/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Mariano Rivera, whose 603 saves over 17 years with the New York Yankees are the most in Major League Baseball history, said the 2012 season may be his last, although he’s not ready to announce his decision.
Rivera, 42, told reporters yesterday at the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Florida. that he wasn’t sure when he’ll be ready to announce any such thing,
“It can be tomorrow, it can be in August, it can be in July, but I will definitely let you know, I won’t let you know now, but I know. I want to do my job, always, but I made my decision already.”
Rivera, who has helped the Yankees win five World Series titles, surpassed Trevor Hoffman’s career saves record in September, establishing a mark that some baseball historians said may stand forever. No other reliever has more than 500 saves and the closest active pitcher, 36-year-old Francisco Cordero, is 276 saves behind Rivera.
Rivera is coming off a season in which he had 44 saves and a 1.91 earned run average, his 11th year with an ERA under 2.00. Rivera has averaged 40 saves since 1997, when he took over as the Yankees’ closer.
Rivera has an 8-1 record with a 0.71 ERA in a record 94 postseason appearances and his 42 career playoff saves are 24 more than any other pitcher.
Rivera said when asked about the possibility of retirement:
“Decisions like that are hard, It involves what you do, it involves what you have done for 22 years. At the same time, they have to be made.”
Rivera is entering the final season of a two-year, $30 million contract with the Yankees, the only team he’s played for during his major-league career.
Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, one of Rivera’s closest friends, retired last month after 17 major-league seasons at the age of 40. Rivera said he’s not quite ready to follow yet.
“When I let you guys know, you guys will know,” Rivera told reporters yesterday. “I’m going to leave it at that.”
David Robertson is currently the favorite to supplant Mariano Rivera as Yankee closer.
There are skeptics, however. Including some of Rivera’s teammates, specifically Rivera’s eighth inning set up man David Robertson who would be the legendary closer’s presumptive successor, rolled his eyes when asked about the potential retirement of Rivera.
Simply put, Robertson said: ”I’ll believe it when it happens. You never know, he might Brett Favre us.”
By all indications, Robertson figures to be next in line after emerging as one of the game’s top relievers.
Robertson earned all-star honors for the first time last season, when he went 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 70 appearances, most of them as Rivera’s set-up man. The 26-year-old Robertson admitted that he’d relish a chance to close someday. But he’s not entirely sure that “someday” is coming any time soon.
Coaches: Cleveland’s Manny Acta and Toronto’s John Farrell will be coaches for Texas’ Ron Washington, the AL manager.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
SS: Derek Jeter, Yankees
OF: Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF: Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF: Josh Hamilton, Rangers
DH: David Ortiz, Red Sox
C: Alex Avila, Tigers
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B: Howard Kendrick, Angels
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians
OF: Michael Cuddyer, Twins
OF: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
OF: Matt Joyce, Rays
OF: Carlos Quentin, White Sox
DH: Michael Young, Rangers
C: Russell Martin, Yankees
C: Matt Wieters, Orioles
RHP: Josh Beckett, Red Sox
RHP: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
LHP: David Price, Rays
RHP: James Shields, Rays
RHP: Justin Verlander, Tigers
RHP: Jered Weaver, Angels
LHP: C.J. Wilson, Rangers
LHP: Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
RHP: Aaron Crow, Royals
RHP: Brandon League, Mariners
RHP: Chris Perez, Indians
RHP: Mariano Rivera, Yankees
RHP: Jose Valverde, Tigers
Final Vote Candidates
**voting for Final Vote is open until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Click here to vote.
- Alex Gordon, KC Royals
- Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
- Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox
- Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers
- Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
Coaches: Arizona’s Kirk Gibson and
Washington’s Jim Riggleman will be coaches for San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy, the NL manager
1B: Prince Fielder, Brewers
2B: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
3B: Jose Reyes, Mets
SS: Placido Polanco, Phillies
OF: Lance Berkman, Cardinals
OF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
C: Brian McCann, Braves
1B: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
2B: Brandon Phillips, Reds
3B: Chipper Jones, Braves
SS: Starlin Castro, Cubs
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
OF: Jay Bruce, Reds
OF: Matt Holliday, Cardinals
OF: Hunter Pence, Astros
OF: Justin Upton, D-backs
C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
RHP: Matt Cain, Giants
RHP: Roy Halladay, Phillies
LHP: Cole Hamels, Phillies
RHP: Jair Jurrjens, Braves
LHP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
LHP: Cliff Lee, Phillies
RHP: Tim Lincecum, Giants
RHP: Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
RHP: Heath Bell, Padres
RHP: Tyler Clippard, Nationals
RHP: Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
LHP: Jonny Venters, Braves
RHP: Brian Wilson, Giants
Final Vote Candidates
**voting for Final Vote is open until 4 p.m. ET on Thursday. Click here to vote.
- Andre Ethier, LA Dodgers
- Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies
- Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks
- Michael Morse, Washington Nationals
- Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies
Last night the New York Yankees lost a heartbreaker by the score of 5-4 in 10 innings to the Minnesota Twins.
Accountability will be important, possibly in the eyes of his teammates as well. But throwing strikes will be more important, and the closer turned setup man had poor command, walking three, including one with the bases loaded, and giving up a single to help blow the 4-0 lead for CC Sabathia in the eighth.
The four runs allowed matched a career worst for Soriano as a reliever. The three walks matched the most he’d ever given up as a starter or reliever.
Take this for an example for accountability. On those rare occasions through the years when Rivera has been a major culprit in a loss, his accountability never has been in doubt. He always faced the media, explained his outing, never broke the imperturbable poker face. He was as good at accountability as throwing a cutter.
After his first meltdown as a Yankee, Soriano vanished. He never came to his locker. A flustered Yankees media relations official conceded Soriano probably dressed quickly and departed, leaving others to explain his ineffectiveness. This would not be quite as big a deal if Soriano’s reputation were closer to pristine. But in previous stops in Atlanta and Tampa Bay, he was known for being prickly, reclusive, determined not to be used in any way, but how he thought fit.
photo courtesy of New York Post
If Soriano is going to succeed in New York with the Yankees he’s got to be accountable. Good or bad, he’s got to be accountable. When his attention and fastball seem off, there is natural wonder if Soriano does not think 4-0 in the eighth inning is worth his full attention. That would have been among the questions asked had he handled last night with professionalism. Instead, he fled, leaving uncertainty if this was a singular poor effort for a talented pitcher or a bad omen of things to come?
Was it because of the cold that Soriano faltered? Pitching the day before? Unfamiliarity with the role? Or anger at being asked to take the ball at 4-0 in the eighth? Soriano played to the worst of his reputation and was not around to answer. The worst part is not that he gave up the lead but the fact that he wasn’t accountable. Going forward, that will tell the story of Soriano’s tenure in New York.
Yankees Universe can now rest easy. Although, I can honestly say that I never really had any doubt and those of you who know me personally can attest.
Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have both decided re-up with the Yankees, signing contracts respectively. By now, multiple media outlets are reporting the signing of Jeter’s new deal but on of the first to confirm the reports was Jack Curry of YESNetwork.com. He’s got all the details.
As for Mariano Rivera, it was smooth, just like the man himself. He spoke to the Daily New and Newsday this afternoon, saying the negotiations were quick and smooth, while hinting that this might very well be the final contract of his career.
Mariano Rivera will not participate in the all-star game. He said he’s been pitching hurt and wants the time off.
Rivera is still dealing with the soreness in his side that left him sidelined earlier this season, and he hurt his right knee during the Dodgers series.
“I’ve been pitching hurt,” he said. “My knee and my side, and I know they are going to use me so I prefer to take this day off and make sure that I’m ready for the second half.”
Rivera said he believes he can still pitch this week, but he knows he can’t go two innings any time soon.
The knee problem seems fairly significant. It happened while he was shagging in the outfield in Los Angeles, and Rivera said he feels it on every pitch. He has some level of inflammation in the knee. The oblique injury happened in early May, and Rivera said it still hasn’t gone away completely.
I’ve started to notice an ongoing theme. In sports, you’ve got guys that have contracts verses guys that don’t. I just don’t understand what the hurry is all about with the guys that still have contracts and the topic of conversation being “what about next year?” If a guy is under contract, he’s just that. Nothing to worry about, he’s got a contract which means he’s got a job to do.
We’ve seen so much fuss over the contract status of guys like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett, and others. The common denominator with these guys is that they are all under contract for 2010. Yet, all we hear is what will happen to these guys after 2010 and what they deserve and so on and so forth.
Stop for a second and think. Do you really think its much of a topic worthy of discussion where Jeter and Rivera will end up? I wouldn’t waste my breath talking about it or allow it to take up space in my brain thinking about it. At his press conference today, most of the questions directed at Jeter were about his contract and as he always does, Jeter did his best to deflect the attention away from himself and direct it towards his team.
“I’ve never gone into a season focused on the next season, I’ve never put limitations on how long I will play… I want to play as long as I can, as long as I’m having fun, as long as I’m productive.This is the only organization I want to play for. I think I can say it enough times. I’m not worried about what my legacy is at this point. “I want to play shortstop as long as I can.”
A few days earlier, Mariano Rivera – also in the final year of his contract – commented on his situation saying as far as he is concerned he has a contract for this season and that is all that matters to him.
“I have a contract this year, that’s all I need to know,” “The rest is out of my control, therefore I don’t have to worry about that. It doesn’t bother me, hopefully I will continue to do my job. That’s the blessing from the Lord. Stay healthy, and hopefully I do my job. The rest is in their court. They (call) the shots … I don’t make the decisions. I make my decisions, I can’t make their decisions.”
Josh Beckett on the other hand, is less of a sure thing. For the most part, he’s been a stud performer and as reliable as can be in the post season. The concern is health, as it always has been with Beckett. In addition, the Red Sox and the team’s GM especially, are known for cold blooded negociation tactics. Case and point after the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox seemingly dismantled key cogs of the team such as Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar, and Trot Nixon to name a few. So whose to say that Beckett won’t suffer the same fate?
A guy has a year remaining on his contract… so. Just play, that’s your job. As Mariano Duncan reminded the 1996 Yankees:
“We play today, we win today… ‘dats it!”