As much as any Yankee in history, Rivera is considered the greatest ever at his position. He has turned the role of closer into an art form with an American League-record 559 career saves. More telling are his 39 postseason saves and 11 World Series saves, both major-league records. His career ERA of 2.23 is second (behind Eddie Cicotte’s 2.20) among pitchers with 1,000 innings or more since it became an official statistic in 1912. Will be best remembered for his five World Series rings. Photo Credit: John Dunn
ARLINGTON, Texas - In the euphoria of a World Series championship last year, Mariano Rivera boisterously announced over the Yankee Stadium loudspeaker - and to a national television audience - that he wanted to pitch five more years.
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But in the wake of the Game 6 loss to the Rangers that ended the Yankees' 2010 season here Friday night, Rivera made it clear to reporters in front of his locker that he had no interest in discussing his plans.
"I don't want to talk about it," he said.
With his three-year, $45-million contract set to expire, Rivera is about to become a free agent again, and general manager Brian Cashman confirmed the obvious after the game: that the Yankees want him back. And everyone around the Yankees - and baseball, for that matter - expects this marriage to continue.
But in the upcoming negotiations with Rivera's longtime agent, Fern Cuza, the number of guaranteed years is certain to be a central issue. How many years will Rivera ask for? And how many years are the Yankees willing to commit to a closer who will turn 41 years old on Nov. 29?
Rivera has said it was the emotion of winning the World Series last year that led to his proclamation of wanting to pitch five more years. He refused to entertain that topic Friday night. Asked repeatedly about his plans, Rivera said only, "I'm going home. I'll tell you that when the time comes."
Rivera even refused to commit to wanting to pitch next year, but he also said there was no moment during Game 6 when the thought crossed his mind that it might be his last. So signs do seem to point to his returning for a 17th season in pinstripes.
Coming off another stellar season (33 saves in 38 opportunities, 1.80 ERA, 0.83 WHIP in 60 innings), Rivera essentially became a nonfactor against the Rangers, though through no doing of his own. It was rare for the Yankees to have a lead, let alone one in the late innings, so they had little need for a closer.
"Definitely there are not good feelings at all, but it's over and there's nothing we can do about that," Rivera said. "They beat us. And for that they were a better team than us."
Rivera appeared in three of the six ALCS games, but only once did he pitch in a save situation. He allowed only two singles in three scoreless innings. He refused to say he was frustrated about being relegated to a spectator, instead heaping praise on a scrappy Rangers team heading to the franchise's first World Series.
"The truth of the matter is that you saw a team that never gives up," Rivera said. "They were always attacking, attacking and attacking. Pitching-wise and hitting-wise. You just have to give it to them. It's not that we weren't trying to do our job. They just beat us."