With no hope of making the postseason, the Yankees might has well find a way to have some fun with these last four games. And what could be more fun than sending Mariano Rivera to play center field?
Rivera, though, wasn’t exactly laughing about the idea.
“If my body permit it,” he said. “One thing I will tell you, if I can do it, I will do it. If I cannot do it, I will not be making a fool of myself there. I’m a professional, and this is not a joke for me. This is serious. This is business. I respect the game, and with that, I leave it like that. If I’m OK, if I can do it, I will do it. If not, it’s fine.”
Rivera seems perfectly serious about his desire to play center field — despite last year’s injury, he has a terrific reputation for shagging fly balls pregame, and his athleticism is well known — but he wants to do it because he thinks he can do it well, not necessarily as a bucket list item.
“It’s not a game for me, guys,” he said. “I don’t know how you guys are taking it, but this is not a game for me. It’s something that I respect. I put the request (to play an inning in center field) way back, a long time ago, and now my knees are not the same. We’ll see what happens.”
First, comes Rivera’s final game at Yankee Stadium, which Rivera acknowledged could be even more emotional than Sunday’s pregame ceremony.
“I can’t tell you about that, but we’ll see,” he said. “It’s going to be hard, definitely.”
• Andy Pettitte will make his final career start on Saturday, not Friday. Joe Girardi said he has not decided who will start Friday or Sunday, which makes it sound like Hiroki Kuroda isn’t necessarily going to start the season finale, even though he would be on turn. Adam Warren, a logical spot-start option, said he hasn’t heard anything about whether he might start one of those games.
• The Yankees have shot down a report that Alex Rodriguez is not traveling with the team to Houston. The expectation is that Rodriguez will be there for this weekend’s series. “I know some reports came out, but we expect him to be there,” Girardi said. “He does not have permission not to be there.”
• As for not playing Rodriguez today, Girardi said that’s a direct reaction to last night’s game, when Rodriguez asked out because his legs were sore. “I didn’t put him in the lineup because of yesterday,” Girardi said. “I’ll check when he gets here.”
• Girardi said Rivera will absolutely pitch tonight, and Rivera said he doesn’t necessarily want to make this his final big league game. He doesn’t feel a need to have his last appearance come in the Bronx. “I’ll be pitching here,” he said. “And if I have the opportunity to pitch in Houston, I will pitch in Houston too.”
• Girardi on the legacy of Bud Selig: “He’s the one who brought the wild card and the change there,” Girardi said. “My guess is the hot topic right now is the PED program, so that might be the No. 1 thing. Maybe he (announced his retirement a year early) because he saw what Mo did, so he could have a (farewell) year.”
• With all the talk of Rivera and Pettitte playing their final games — and possibly Robinson Cano as well — it’s worth remembering that Girardi’s contract ends after this season. He could be managing his last game at Yankee Stadium. “I remember brining my son to the ballpark here, to the old ballpark, thinking it might be my last time ever at Yankee Stadium,” Girardi said. “Lo and behold, I was here a lot more years after that. I don’t necessarily think like that any more.”
Associated Press photos