Mariano Rivera won't give away plans before Saturday's announcement

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera sits in the dugout

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera sits in the dugout before a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers. (April 29, 2012) (Credit: Kathy Kmonicek)

JUPITER, Fla. -- News broke Thursday that in a 10 a.m. news conference Saturday at Steinbrenner Field, Mariano Rivera intends to announce that 2013 will be his last season.

And the 43-year-old closer made it clear Friday that the announcement won't come a minute sooner.

"You want to know what I'm going to say?'' Rivera told a group of reporters in Tampa after a morning workout. "You have to wait. You have to wait. Whatever is out there is speculation until I talk to you guys.''

But there likely would be no reason, other than a retirement announcement, for Rivera's family to be en route to Tampa.

"My wife is traveling today,'' Rivera conceded. "They're traveling, coming here today.''

Derek Jeter, who also worked out in Tampa Friday morning, joked that the news conference could be about something else.

"They might be announcing an extension,'' he said with a smile. "Who knows?''

Rivera is scheduled to make his spring training debut several hours after his news conference, and the closer said he'll have no trouble separating the two.

Even though the day will kick off a season of appreciation from fans and opponents alike -- and the plaudits already have begun to flow -- if anyone can handle that kind of attention, it's Rivera.

"I am taking everything one day at a time,'' he said. "I'm pitching tomorrow. I'm not going to rush it. When I get the chance, do what I have to do.''

The way he has the past 18 years, dominating with a pitch that Ichiro Suzuki said Thursday can't be compared to any other.

Kevin Youkilis put it another way. "He's pretty much the Godfather of cutters,'' he said before the Yankees' 6-1 loss to the Marlins. "There's no one who's even remotely close to him.''

Youkilis is a respectable 4-for-12 in his career against Rivera -- the result, he said, of patience and some luck.

"When I had success against him, I just tried to hit or flick the ball right back at him,'' Youkilis said. "I was fortunate to get some singles here and there.''

But none of those four singles or the bevy of bat-shattering cutters that left "firewood all over the place,'' in Youkilis' words, stood out in the third baseman's mind.

Unprompted, he said his most vivid memory of Rivera is the humility and grace he showed when the Red Sox received their World Series rings on April 11, 2005, before a game against the Yankees at Fenway Park.

That 2004 world championship was made possible, in part, because of Rivera, who blew a save in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS when the Yankees were on the verge of sweeping the series. Instead, after trailing three games to none, the Red Sox came back to win that series in seven games, the only time that has ever happened in baseball history.

Then Rivera blew two saves against Boston at Yankee Stadium in the first week of the 2005 season, picking up a win (on Jeter's walk-off homer) and a loss. A week later, during pregame introductions at Fenway in which each of his teammates was booed, Rivera received a standing ovation.

"He took it like a true professional,'' Youkilis said. "He was laughing and he tipped his cap. That shows the kind of person he is.''

On Thursday, Joe Girardi -- who caught Rivera before managing him -- recalled a lefthanded hitter stepping in the box against Rivera and wondering "why they even send me up here.''

Righties have hit .214 with a .267 on-base percentage and .315 slugging percentage against Rivera; lefties are at .207/.257/.266.

"I don't how many times lefthanded pinch hitters came in and they just knew,'' Youkilis said. "They knew they were out.''

After pitching a simulated game in Tampa Friday, Andy Pettitte became the latest to credit Rivera with the five World Series rings he owns.

"I've got to be a little biased, [but] without Mo being out there closing those games out, I would say that he by far has been one of the biggest impacts for us winning those championships,'' Pettitte said. "He's absolutely dominated the game. I've never seen anything like it. I don't think we'll ever see anything like it ever again, to tell you the truth.''

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