Robertson, Soriano will share closer duties

David Robertson #30 of the New York Yankees

David Robertson #30 of the New York Yankees pitches against the New York Mets at Citi Field. (July 3, 2011) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For now, the task of replacing Mariano Rivera apparently is too big for one pitcher. So Joe Girardi plans to use two.

Though general manager Brian Cashman said earlier in the day that David Robertson has "earned the right" to close, Girardi said the duties will be shared by Robertson and Rafael Soriano, who had 45 saves with the Rays in 2010.

Soriano has 90 career saves compared with three for Robertson, though the latter really hasn't had many chances. "We're fortunate that we believe that we have two guys that are capable of doing it," Girardi said. "We'll make a decision each day. You're probably going to see both of them at some point."

Girardi said day-to-day circumstances will dictate whom he uses, though it sounded as if Robertson will get the bulk of the opportunities. "You have to see how people do in situations, and I'm not saying Robertson's not going to be my closer," he said. "But I'm not ready to be pinned down to where I say 'this guy's my closer.' "

Girardi would like to avoid seeing one of them have the "Rivera's replacement" label bestowed upon him.

"Would I like to have one set closer? Yes," he said. "And we're going to try and get to that. We have to see how it irons out because when you lose a guy in the back end, you have to see how the other guys fill in."

Soriano was signed to a three-year, $35-million deal to set up Rivera after succeeding as a closer in 2010. "Like I said last year, my mission is to try and help the team to win. In any role," said Soriano, who lost his setup job to Robertson when he landed on the DL in 2011 but pitched the seventh inning effectively in the second half of the season.

Robertson, who had a 1.08 ERA last year, has a 0.00 ERA in 12 innings in 2012 and struck out the side in the ninth Friday night, said: "That's what I was guessing he would do. Sori's got a lot of experience closing games, he's got a lot of saves under his belt. I only have three. I can just go out there and do what I can do. When I get the opportunity, do as well as I can and try to close the ballgame out."

Rivera gave his seal of approval to the arms he's leaving behind, a message he planned to deliver in an address to teammates before the game. "I'm just going to give encouragement that I trust them and believe in them," he said. "I know my group of guys out there. They can do the job. They will do the job."

And after he has his knee surgery, he said, he's not going anywhere. "I'll be around," he said. "You guys don't get rid of me that easy. I'll be around and we will talk. Definitely all my advice, all my heart and all my knowledge will be there."

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