Something is very different in Tampa this Spring. The media is still there full force, with bulbs popping and notepads out for every move Derek Jeter makes. There are certainly still the bevy of high-priced, big-named new guys adjusting to life in pinstripes. This year, for the first time in nearly two decades there is no Sandman and Mo is just fine with that.
A recent New York Post interview caught up with Mariano Rivera, the Yankee legend who memorably hung it up last season. For the past 19 seasons, Mo would have already been in Tampa fine-tuning that patented cutter to take down the opposition throughout the season. This spring he’s being seen at Brooklyn Nets’ games.
“I miss it, I do miss it,” Rivera said . “But I miss my family, too. I’m fine.” He went on to elaborate, mentioning how he misses hanging out and joking around with his teammates. He sorely misses throwing and competing and commented that he will miss that for the rest of his life. Spending 19 years on the road, however, you start to miss your family and it seems that’s what Rivera was needing most.
The Yankees miss The Sandman, too. One of the big story lines this Spring Training is who will replace the legend. The dubious honor currently sits with incumbent set-up man David Robertson, however the Yankees will spend the Spring addressing the entire bullpen from top to bottom. Replacing the all-time saves leader and greatest closer ever is going to take a lot more than one person.
Mo won’t disappear from the Yankee spotlight forever. He will be hosting the Legend Series featuring the Yankees versus the Marlins in his native Panama City. The games will be played from March 15th to 16th in Rod Carew Stadium. He also reaffirmed there is “no chance” he puts on the pinstripes one last time for the exhibition.
Of course, Yankee fans had to know what Rivera felt about Derek Jeter’s abrupt retirement. He admitted, like Joe Girardi and Hal Steinbrenner, that he was shocked and didn’t know it was coming. “For sure, I was one of the guys that said they will have to pull the uniform off of his body to take him out.” Rivera looks forward to seeing Jeter in Panama City and hopes The Captain gets to enjoy his Farewell Tour much like Mo did.
It certainly is a little emptier in the bullpen this spring. It will seem even emptier when fans don’t hear Metallica roaring through Yankee Stadium in the ninth inning come April. Yankee fans should be thankful they had 19 seasons watching the best reliever of all-time.