Page last updated on Tue Dec 01 00:40:33 EST 2015
Tue, 08 May 2012 03:44 AM EDT

The incomparable career of N.Y Yankees closer Mariano Rivera could have ended, not on a pitcher’s mound but on the warning track at Kauffman Stadium before the game had even started. Baseball odds

Rivera, 42, the most successful closer of all time, suffered a torn ACL and a torn meniscus in his right knee after he slid awkwardly to the ground while shagging a fly ball during batting train before the Yankees’ game with the Kansas City Royals.

The 12-time All-Star was lifted by manager Joe Girardi and a coach and placed on a cart, driven off the field, and required assistance to walk into the clubhouse. Then he was whisked to a close-by hospital for an MRI, which revealed the news report.

And when he was asked some 4 hours after the injury and minutes after the Yankees had lost 4-3 to the Royals if he suspected he could return from the injury, which is likely to need season-ending surgery, Rivera claimed, “At this point, I am not sure. At about that point, I don’t know.

“Going to have to face this 1st, it actually depends on the way in which the rehabilitation is going to occur, and from there, we’ll see.”

Asked to explain his discomfort, Rivera recounted, “It’s more mental than physical now. I let the team down.”

Rivera, who regularly catches balls during batting practice as a technique to stay fit, , fell to the warning track. His face was contorted in plain pain, and he was rubbing his right knee with his right hand.

“I got myself between the grass and the dirt, and I could not pull my leg up and twisted my knee. ACL. Torn. Broken. Meniscus, also,” declared Rivera, who has won World Series and LCS MVP awards. “I thought it wasn’t that bad. I mean, I was walking a bit. But, uh, it’s torn. I should fix it.”

Rivera was attended to by Royals team trainers and then by Yankees team coach Steve Donohue, who accompanied him on a cart that took him off the field.

Rivera was smiling as he was driven off the field, and even appeared to flash a shoulder shrug to his squad on the field. But an eyewitness in the tunnel outside of the Yankees’ clubhouse announced Rivera could not walk under his own power and was helped into the room with his arms over the shoulders of Yankees manager Joe Girardi and an assistant trainer.

Girardi dismissed any notion that Rivera could have prevented the injury, reasoning that his pregame routine helped make him one of the game’s stars.

“You’ve all seen Mo run around here for what, 40 years?” Girardi asserted. “You can fall off the curb or down stairs and get hurt.”

Girardi said he’ll sleep on who will replace Rivera as the Yankees’ closer, but declared he’s leaning toward David Robertson, with Rafael Soriano as the set-up man.

Rivera, baseball’s career saves leader with 608 in his 18-year career, has hinted this may be his last season. He’s 1-1 with 5 saves and a 2.16 ERA in 9 appearances this season.

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