Name: Mariano Rivera
Position: Closer (RHP)
Age as of Opening Day 2013: 43 (born on 11/29/1969)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 195 lbs.
Remaining Contract: Free agent after 2013 with plans of retirement :(
2012 Statistics: 9 games, 5 saves, 8.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 1.89 FIP, 8.64 K/9, 2.16 BB/9
When Mariano Rivera tore his ACL while shagging fly balls in the outfield in Kansas City, fear set in that the speculation of his retirement at the end of the season would be true and he wouldn't return. Luckily, Mariano Rivera was not about to let his historic career end on the warning track at Kauffman Stadium. Having now recovered from knee surgery, the greatest closer of all time will be there to shut down games for the Yankees again in 2013; but it will be for the last time. Rivera didn't waste a lot of time in Spring Training before holding a press conference to announce his retirement at the end of the season. It feels like Mo could pitch forever if that's what he wanted to do, but that is evidently not the case.
This season will definitely be quite a farewell tour for the greatest closer of all time as he pitches in each stadium around baseball for the last time. I'd expect to see him used a little more than he has been recently, just to give people maximum exposure when possible. This might actually have a positive effect on the team as well, as more Mo equals better chances to win games. Even if it's not a save situation, Rivera can come in and take innings away from lesser relievers who could blow the game.
Expect more of the same from Rivera as he picks up right where he left off by sawing bats in half and shutting down the ninth. So far this spring the injury has not impeded his performance in the slightest and Rivera himself said his only concern is his ability to field his position, which he has done so well for so long. He seems completely fine there too. Bill James projects him to finish the season with 46 saves, so if he can reach that mark his record will be in the 650 range.
The all-time saves leader mentioned in his retirement announcement press conference that he'd love to go out throwing the last pitch of the World Series, and I know that those of us who have watched Rivera for so long could think of no better end for the most talented closer we will probably ever see. It's too bad so much has gone wrong even before the 2013 season started because not being able to see one of the best Postseason pitchers ever pitch in the playoffs one last time would be a shame.
The fanfare will come, the memories will be many. Just prepare yourself for a lot of Michael Kay's "History with an Exclamation Point" nonsense and a lot of Mariano ACL injury replays. The Yankees play in Kansas City for the first time on May 10th. You have been warned.