Exit Sandman? Well, the unfortunate truth may be out there for all of us. Mariano Rivera, who was so certain to come back next year, is now having reservations about his earlier comments. Rivera spoke last Sunday about next year and how he cannot guarantee to be a part of it. The New York Yankees without Rivera is unfathomable yes, but it is something that we all knew would happen one day.
Fortunately enough for us, Rafael Soriano has stepped in as the closer for the time being and has done a fantastic job at that. Will the closer role belong to Soriano if Mo is unable to return from his injury? I would have to say yes. Dominant closers are very hard to come by anymore and having Mo was one of the best things that has happened to the Yankees in the past 17 years.
For those of you who don’t know, or simply forgot, Rivera tore his ACL and meniscus while shagging fly balls back in early May. At the time, the closer role was in panic mode. The Yankees had always relied on Mo to close out their games and with the help of some Metallica, Mo would get the job done. Without Rivera, Joe Girardi looked at David Robertson who was thought to be next in line. However, Robertson’s trial didn’t work out in part to getting injured himself, so Soriano was practically the automatic closer at this point and fortunately enough for him and us, the rest is history.
Mo has been trying to stay optimistic about his injury. Earlier in the season, he said he would try and be back in 2012, but that is something Brian Cashman flat out denied stating those plans were not happening. Concerning 2013, Mo is being optimistic, but at the same time, he sees the reality of the situation. Rivera turns 43 in November, and coming back from a torn ACL at that age, it’s really something you have to ask yourself whether or not it’s worth it. Mo had this to say about next year:
"“I don’t even know if I want to play next year. I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. One day at a time.”“I love (baseball). I love the game. I love the competition. I love being on the field. Going out like that, to me, I won’t take it. Hopefully the good Lord will allow me to be on the field again.”"
Rivera’s optimism is certainly a great sign that perhaps he will be back in pinstripes next year, but if he isn’t, then we can say we saw it coming. Any player hates to end a career on an injury, just ask Chipper Jones. He loves New York and playing in Yankee Stadium and for that, we as fans cherish every moment that he was out on the field, throwing that nasty cutter and getting saves. However, realistically, is this something Mo can physically and mentally come back from?
I’m fine with Soriano maintaining the closer role should Rivera decide to call it quits. But, not having Mo there really hits us hard because we were so spoiled by his performances. I wish Mo nothing but the best and a speedy recovery which will hopefully result with him on the mound come next year.