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Mariano delayed while tending to family

Mariano Rivera has delayed his start to spring

Mariano Rivera has delayed his start to spring training while helping care for his sick children. (Feb. 28, 2010) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

TAMPA, Fla. - Mariano Rivera was a no-show the past two days, but Brian Cashman said there was no reason to panic.

"His kids have been sick," Cashman said Tuesday. "He called me Sunday and said he just didn't want to leave until everything's settled."

Cashman said the illnesses didn't appear to be serious. "Sounds like flu stuff," he said.

Rivera, 41, is limited in when he throws and how much. "Even when he's here, he's got a different program," Cashman said. "And it's obviously one that works."

Rivera is expected to arrive Wednesday. The only other player not in camp is pitcher Hector Noesi. Cashman said the native of the Dominican Republic had "visa issues" but was expected shortly.

Montero improving

Joe Girardi said he's already noticed a difference defensively from last spring in top prospect Jesus Montero, who will get a chance to win the backup catching job.

"I think he sits more comfortable, his hands work better," Girardi said. "We'll see as spring training goes on, but he just looks more comfortable."

Cashman, asked to compare Montero to where Jorge Posada was at the same time in his career, said: "It's so long ago, but we thought Posada was special and we think Montero is special. We were right on Posada and I think we'll be right on Montero, but Posada transferred that potential into reality. Montero's still doing that."

Joe: Andy won't be back

Posada said he hopes his close friend Andy Pettitte will return this season and that "it wouldn't surprise me," but Girardi doesn't see it happening.

"Andy has always been pretty much true to what he says, a man of his word," Girardi said. "And he said he wasn't coming back. He said multiple times 'I don't plan on playing this year.' ''

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