Mariano Rivera honored by presence of John Wetteland at his farewell

Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera acknowledges fans as Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera acknowledges fans as he leaves the field after a game against the Texas Rangers. (July 25, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Mariano Rivera has appreciated all of the farewells he's been given on the road this season, but he said Thursday's was extra special.

That's because of the presence of John Wetteland, whom Rivera called his "mentor'' -- no small designation.

"It means a lot for me,'' said Rivera, who earned his 33rd save in 35 opportunities in the Yankees' 2-0 win. "He didn't hesitate to come and be there for me. It means a whole lot to me.''

Rivera said he paid close attention to Wetteland in 1995, when he was a rookie, and in 1996, when he was Wetteland's setup man.

"I was attached to him like a leech,'' said Rivera, who was presented cowboy boots and a cowboy hat before the game in a ceremony that included Wetteland, Rangers closer Joe Nathan and Rangers president Nolan Ryan. "I learned a lot from him, how to pitch. Especially in the playoffs . . . One thing I remember was him saying, 'Don't get beaten with your third-best pitch. When you go in there, bring your No. 1 pitch.' ''

Wetteland, who closed for the Rangers after the Yankees, said he remains mystified how Rivera's body has endured. "The thing that blows my mind is how the body holds up,'' he told reporters, according to MLB.com. "We all take care of our bodies; energy in and energy out. We all tend to those things, but there are a special few that are blessed with the ability to keep going. That's something that's very special that I can't explain.''

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Gardner gets some restJoe Girardi gave Brett Gardner, who appeared in 99 of the Yankees' first 101 games, a rare day off (though he inserted him for defense in the ninth).

"I thought we played him so much in the first half he kind of got beat up,'' Girardi said, meaning in a general sense.

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