After years of tip-toeing around the issue, New York Yankees All-Star closer Mariano Rivera made his strongest statements yet that 2012 will be his final season on the mound.
“How many times did I tell you guys this is my last year?,” Rivera jokingly asked. “Seven or eight years: ‘I’m not going to play after this year’ and then I sign a contract for two more years, three more years.’ But this one is different. This is it. This one is my decision.”
Rivera, whose 603 saves over 17 years with the Yankees are the most in Major League Baseball history, told reporters Monday that while he already knows when he will retire, he isn’t ready for the official announcement quite yet.
“I made my decision already,” the 42-year-old Rivera said in front of his locker at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Fla. “But I’m not ready to tell you yet.”
Rivera said that he decided what he wanted to do within the last two or three weeks, and that he has already let his family in on the secret. The Yankees, Rivera explained, will be the next to know.
“That will be my decision,” Rivera said. “Even if I save 90 games, even if they want to pay as much money as they want to — anything.”
ESPN notes that Mariano Rivera is entering the final season of a two-year, $30 million contract with the Yankees and has averaged 40 saves since 1997, when he took over as the club’s closer.
In 2011, the right-handed closer with the infamous splitter had 44 saves and a 1.91 earned run average, his 11th time with an ERA under 2.00.
Mariano Rivera talks retirement with reporters in the video clip below:
Do you think 2012 will be Mariano Rivera’s last season as a MLB closer?