The clock above the clubhouse door read 9:19 — of course the number nine was involved — when Mariano Rivera walked in from the hallway and began shaking hands with everyone in sight.
“How are you?”
“Nice to see you.”
It was presidential, maybe even regal, the way he greeted everyone between the door and his locker. When he sat down, Rivera spoke for about 10 minutes. He said he’s not worried about his contract, that he doesn’t mind waiting until the offseason to negotiate. He said he wants to keep pitching as long as he’s capable of his lofty standards, but he wants to walk away the moment he starts slipping.
For now, he just wants to get back to work. Rivera’s spring training always moves at a slower pace than every other pitcher, and Rivera said he’s only tossed off flat ground this winter. He has yet to throw off a mound.
“I have enough time to do that,” he said.
UPDATE, 10:29 a.m.: Here’s the full audio of the Rivera interview. After he talked about wanting to pitch as long as he knows he can do it — “If I know, if I’m sure, 100 percent that I can do it, I will do it,” he said — someone asked Rivera if he can imagine a day when he’s no longer capable of pitching up to his standards.
“One day that will happen, and that day I will go,” he said. “This is not mine. I will go and the baseball will not stop because I don’t play any more.”