Mariano Rivera left home yesterday, doing what Andy Pettitte couldn’t bring himself to do this winter.
“It’s hard,” Rivera said. “One of my kids was, the little one was attached to my hip, crying. It’s hard. A lot of people don’t see that, that part of the game. You have to leave your family. Even though you’re going to see them, being detached from your family is hard.”
It seems Rivera never seriously considered retirement this offseason, but he admitted that leaving home “gets harder and harder,” and now that his oldest son is 17, Rivera realizes he’s “missed a lot of things.”
“Baseball is not everything,” Rivera said. “That’s what we do, yeah, but there’s still life after baseball. There will come a time when you have to make a decision, even though you still have the abilities to play. That comes within yourself. If you don’t feel it in your heart, you don’t feel it in yourself no more, it’s time to say goodbye because, why are you going to do it if you don’t have the desire to do it? That’s why I thank God for Andy, and I respect him because he just didn’t have the desire to do it no more.”
I’ve already mentioned a few things about Rivera today, but he’s one of those guys who always leaves plenty of worthwhile notes. Here’s his welcome-back interview, plus a few additional items.
• Rivera said he doesn’t know Rafael Soriano very well and he wasn’t contracted during the Yankees negotiations. Those two have lockers right next to one another. “I don’t know Soriano much at all,” Rivera said. “I have seen him. I have talked to him a little bit, but not much. I will get to know him better this time.”
• During his brief free agency, did Rivera consider playing for anyone but the Yankees? “I either don’t play or play for the Yankees,” he said.
• Who exactly was sick in the Rivera household? “Everybody was sick,” he said. “I was, but I got better.”
• Girardi insisted Rivera isn’t the only veteran who would be allowed to show up late. “There’s actually a lot of them that I trust, because I know how seriously they take the game,” Girardi said. “I know they would find a way to get their work in.”
• Girardi said one thing Soriano might be able to take from Rivera is his longevity. “A lot of people can learn from Mo that as you lose a little off your fastball, that doesn’t mean you can’t be as good,” Girardi said. “You might have to do it a little different — Mo came up with a sinker — so you may have to add a little something to your repertoire, but you can still be a very good pitcher.”
• Girardi on what it will be like when Rivera finally does retire:
“It’s going to be strange, similar to how strange it is not to see Andy Pettitte here. When you have someone that’s been here as long as certain players have been, it’s strange when you walk into the clubhouse and you look where they usually sat and they’re not there.
“Mo is not going to be an easy person to replace, just because of how good he’s been over the years but also what he’s meant to this organization, meant to the clubhouse and his leadership skills. It’s not easy to replace. You have to be careful, because you don’t want the person who comes in after Mo to feel like he has to replace Mo. That person only has to do his job; he doesn’t have to be Mo.
“There’s only going to be one Mo.”
Associated Press photos, the second one is of Rivera with Chamberlain