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Mariano Rivera keeps retirement decision to himself for now

Mariano Rivera delivers a pitch during a spring

Mariano Rivera delivers a pitch during a spring training workout at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2013) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera said he's not going to drag it out.

Regarding whether 2013 will be his final season, the 43-year-old Yankees closer said an announcement will come before the start of the regular season.

"I have [made a decision]," Rivera said Wednesday after going through a full workout, which included a rare first-day bullpen (25 pitches), on his surgically repaired right knee. "But I won't give it up until I'm ready for that . . . Don't worry, the time will come. Another day or week won't hurt."

It was the kind of response that lends itself to tea leaf reading, but unlike last spring, when Rivera gave a similar answer about retirement, that wasn't even close to the dominant topic of conversation yesterday.

That ended up being the ACL tear he suffered last May 3 in Kansas City that resulted in season-ending surgery. Rivera rated the knee a "nine" out of 10, adding: "Everything is great. I'll be a 10 when I finish."

He did concede he's been working out and will pitch with a light brace, which Rivera characterized as "precautionary" but not restrictive. "I wasn't thinking at all about it," he said.

In other words, baseball's all-time best closer, with 608 saves, expects to be the Rivera of old.

"Definitely," he said. "That's what I demand of myself with the blessing of the Lord. I'm looking for that, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I definitely expect good things."

Rivera went through all the drills yesterday, including throwing a bullpen. In past springs, his first such session typically didn't come until more than a week in. For years he capped his spring training regimen at six to eight innings, but said because of the injury he'll likely require a bit more preseason work.

That could include a couple of more spring innings and certainly more in the way of drills.

"I need to do this and be on the field as much as I can, stay on my feet and my knees and do what I need to do," Rivera said. "Rehab, it was great. But there's some things you can do on the field that you can't do in rehab.

"It's just work. I haven't been on the mound in a real game in a really long time. I've been throwing some bullpens [in New York] but it's nothing like the real stuff, in a real game, on a real mound and covering first base and fielding the position and fielding bunts. All that stuff. You're going to get that here."

Joe Girardi said there will be more scrutiny from him. "Any time a player comes off an injury you watch him a lot closer than you would normally," he said. "We'll watch him."

Rivera got hurt shagging fly balls during batting practice, something he's done for his entire professional career, which started with the Gulf Coast League Yankees in 1990.

So, yes, he will continue to shag during BP.

"Shagging is part of my routine, so I'll be doing it," Rivera said. "How much? I don't know, but I'll be doing it . . . I've been doing this for so many years, this will be [24] years, minor leagues and big leagues, and I've been doing it every day since I signed as a professional player.

"That's what I know how to do. Take that away from me, it's like I won't be myself. Again, I will do it, but I have to watch what I do."

Yanks acquire reliever. The Yankees added depth to their bullpen, acquiring RHP Shawn Kelley (2-4, 3.25 ERA in 2012) from the Mariners for minor-league OF Abraham Almonte.

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