HOUSTON - Unless he shocks everyone and unretires, Mariano Rivera has thrown his last pitch on a major-league field.
And he isn't going to play centerfield, either.
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Rivera said Saturday night that Thursday night's going-away party at Yankee Stadium was "the perfect ending'' to his career. So the future Hall of Famer and all-time saves leader decided he was not going to play this weekend in any capacity as the Yankees finish the season against the Astros.
"I'm done, guys. I'm done,'' Rivera said in the visiting dugout before Saturday night's game. "I gave everything that I have. I was playing for something. I'm not going to play just to play. I am going to be there. I think Thursday was the day that I left everything on the field.''
Rivera also revealed that he was hurting when he threw his last pitch against the Rays on Thursday night.
"I was pitching with a tremendous soreness in my arm,'' he said. "I was pitching hurt. My forearm even in the eighth inning on Thursday, I came in -- you guys didn't see me in the dugout -- I was trying to put some hot cream [to help] my arm loosen up. But that's something that we don't talk about. That's something that you have to manage.''
Asked how long he's been hurting, Rivera smiled and said: "I don't want to tell you that. It's over.'' But he indicated it was longer than just one day.
Rivera finished his 19th season with a 6-2 record, 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA. He ends his career with 652 saves in the regular season and another 42 -- his now-retired uniform number -- in the postseason.
Said manager Joe Girardi: "I think you're going to miss the type of person he is and what he's meant to this organization, inside the clubhouse and off the field. Obviously, we're going to miss him on the field because you can't replace 650-plus saves. It's probably never going to happen again.''
Rivera said he'd like to see setup man David Robertson get a chance to replace him in 2014.
"That would be my thinking,'' he said. "I'm not the Yankees. I don't know what they're going to do, but I think he deserves a shot.''
Of playing in the outfield this weekend, Rivera said: "I did consider it strongly. If it would have been a few years earlier, then I would have done it. But now my knee is not cooperating. I'm not going to make a fool of myself out there. I respect the game too much for me to do something that I'm not supposed to be doing.''
Rivera had said in spring training that he wanted to "empty the tank'' this season. The 43-year-old said he did exactly that.
"Oh my God, yes,'' he said. "I think I spent every ounce of fuel that I had in my tank. It's empty. I had nothing left. I gave everything that I had. I can go home. I can say, 'You know what, I used every talent that the Lord gave me.' ''
Of his immediate plans, Rivera said: "Rest. Rest. Rest and rest and rest and more rest. That's what I want to do. Right now. So far. I know I'm going to be involved a lot in the community with the church that we have. Sharing the gospel. But right now I'm just going to enjoy my family.''
The final tribute to Rivera will come Sunday in Houston. Roger Clemens and Joe Torre are expected to attend.
Anticlimactic? Probably. But Rivera said he has a message for all of the fans who have celebrated his career across baseball this season.
"The message is thank you,'' he said. "Thank you very much for the support. It has been amazing. It has been spectacular. You see how much time I spend signing [autographs] because I think they deserve that. That's the least that I can do for them. Definitely thank you. Thank you very much.''