Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and Mark Prior are all right-handed pitchers, but more specifically, they’re all relievers. We’ll get into a little later, but let’s start at the end, with the Yankees closer.
After helping haul in some donations at today’s Holiday Food Drive, Rivera spoke briefly about his offseason discussions with the Red Sox.
“It was real,” he said. “Nothing that we sat and talked (face-to-face), but it was real. I also made sure that I thanked them because they took me into consideration. But again, this is business and the Yankees did the right thing, and I’m here.”
Of course, Rivera said he never actually planned to pitch for anyone but the Yankees. “I just had to make sure I had a job,” he said, which is either a sign of extreme paranoia, or a polite way of saying a negotiation goes both ways and leverage is a good thing.
Could this be his final contract?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I (have) always been saying that for, what, last eight, 10 years? But I’m still here.”
• Even with the Yankees looking for a starter, Brian Cashman said he does not consider Chamberlain an option in the rotation. “No,” Cashman said. “Joba’s in the pen.” So there’s that. Again.
• Prior will also go to camp as a reliever. Cashman said Prior is a “bullpen situation.” The Yankees tried to sign him the past two years, but Prior always landed elsewhere. He’s a longtime friend of assistant GM Billy Eppler.
• Rivera said none of the nagging injuries from last season are still bothering him. “Everything’s good,” he said. “It’s rested. Time heals everything. I’m fine, working out. The rest will have to wait until spring training, to throw and do everything else with the team.”
• Rivera said he might call Andy Pettitte soon, just to check on his plans for next season. If Pettitte says he’s retiring, might Rivera try to change his mind? “Yeah, I might,” Rivera said. “He will have the last word, but I might. Yes. Andy to me is one of the best lefties there is out there, so I would take him any time.”
• Of the Yankees who spoke today, Joe Girardi seems to have spoken to Pettitte most recently. “He’s still weighing his options,” Girardi said. “Obviously, we’re not going to pressure him one way or the other because whatever decision he makes, it has to be inside his heart what he wants to do. But I have talked to him, talked to him probably three or four days ago.”
• Girardi was pretty to-the-point about losing Cliff Lee: “We have to add another guy to our rotation, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
• Cashman reiterated that he’s glad the summer’s trade for Lee fell through. He’s not sure playing in New York would have convinced him to sign away from Philadelphia. “I think it would have been a rental,” he said. “We didn’t swing the bats in the ALCS whatsoever. We wouldn’t have won whether we had Cliff Lee or not. We didn’t hit a lick.”
• Cashman said he was not surprised or upset to hear Lee say he always wanted to go back to Philadelphia. Cashman does not feel “used” by the free agent process. “The job for him is to pursue every opportunity, try to evaluate it and make the best decision possible,” Cashman said. “He chose a place where he was comfortable. He’s been there before and he had a huge offer. It’s all good. It’s not a big deal. I’m very comfortable with the effort we put forth.”
• Obligatory Cashman quote about his offseason plans: “I’m pursuing any aspect to improve our club, whether it’s upon what we already have or to fix what we don’t have. How long that takes and how successful we’ll be at it remains to be seen.”
Associated Press photos