While manager Joe Girardi was closely watching his relievers in search of David Robertson‘s ninth-inning replacement on Wednesday, the man who handed the duties over to Robertson was in his all-to-familiar No. 42 jersey, attended coaches meetings and shagged fly balls in the outfield during batting practice.
Obviously, Mo’ was joking. He isn’t planning a comeback to add to his record total 652 saves with his devastating cutter. Instead, he is just in camp as a guest instructor to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of New York Yankee pitchers.
“I joked with him, the last time a guy like you came to spring training he made two days of coaches’ meetings, went home for three days and decided he wanted to pitch again,’’ Joe Girardi said of Andy Pettitte. “So I said, ‘I am curious to see how long you are going to make it in our meetings.
According to the skipper, Mariano plans on assisting in spring training for nine or ten days, heading home for a break, and possibly returning later on in the spring…. still as a coach.
“He has free rein to help out as much as he can,’’ Girardi said of his former closer, who said goodbye to baseball after the 2013 season as baseball’s all-time leader in saves. “I think the advice he will give young players should be something they should listen to.’’
Interestingly enough, Mariano Rivera stood behind prized prospect Luis Servino, as he threw his second bullpen session of the spring. Mo’ offered the 21-year-old some tips throughout. Perhaps an inside scoop on how to throw the cutter?
Rivera talked briefly about his sons; the oldest, Mariano III, who was drafted by the Yankees in the 29th round last summer and has been clocked in the low 90s off the mound. Mariano III is currently a junior at Iona College, right now the road from our alma mater high school; Iona Preparatory… yes Mariano Rivera’s son and I were once classmates. Anyway, last season, Mariano Rivera III recorded 50 strikeouts in 70 innings. Very encouraging to say the least.
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