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Jim Leyland thankful Mariano Rivera doesn't want to start final All-Star Game

Rivera, 43, has donned the pinstripes for the

Rivera, 43, has donned the pinstripes for the Yankees his entire 19-year career. He's made 13 All-Star teams, won five AL Rolaids Relief Awards and five World Series championships. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

DETROIT - Jim Leyland publicly thanked Yankees closer Mariano Rivera Tuesday for saying that he wasn't interested in starting the All-Star Game.

Leyland, who will manage the American League team in the Midsummer Classic at Citi Field on July 16, told reporters before Tuesday night's Tigers-Angels game that Rivera "took me off the hot seat" by squashing what had been an online movement to make him a starter in his final game.

Leyland said he plans to use the best closer in the history of the game in the ninth inning if the American League is leading.

"Thank God for Mariano. He took me off the hook from all that silly stuff," Leyland said.

Rivera, 43, will be making his final All-Star Game appearance.

Rivera has four saves in 12 All-Star Game appearances. He has not been called up on to pitch in an All-Star game since 2009.

On Sunday, at the Yankees Old-Timers' Day, he told reporters that he did not want to change his role in the All-Star game."What I do is close the games. I don't start the games," Rivera said. "It's a privilege and an honor to be considered like that, but I think the right thing is to do it the way it is -- especially when it counts. I don't want to start the game and give up 10 runs in the first inning."

New York Sports