Mariano Rivera could play centerfield vs. Astros

Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera waves to fans for Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera waves to fans for the last time as a player at Yankee Stadium during the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. (Sept. 26, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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Mariano Rivera, Yankees centerfielder?

It could happen.

As the 43-year-old Rivera prepares for his final weekend as a major-leaguer, manager Joe Girardi said he "absolutely" is considering playing baseball's best all-time closer in centerfield this weekend in Houston.

Doing so would fulfill a dream that Rivera has been talking about for more than a decade. But now that it's closer than ever to becoming a reality, Rivera said he has to make sure he can physically handle the job before he accepts his new position.

"I put in the request way back long time ago and now my knees are not the same," Rivera said. "So we'll see what happens."

Girardi said he envisions Rivera coming out from the bullpen to play centerfield in the eighth inning, then taking the mound in the ninth to close the game.

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"One thing I'll tell you, if I can do it, I'll do it," Rivera said. "If I can't do it, I won't be making a fool of myself there."

Rivera has always been one of the Yankees' most active pitchers shagging fly-balls in the outfield during batting practice. He even tore his right ACL while chasing down a batting-practice fly-ball last May, an injury that cost him much of the season.

He returned to his shagging ways this season, but he's not exactly in what a centerfielder might call game shape. When Rivera was asked if he would like to play a full game in center, he said, "Nooooooo."

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