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Mariano Rivera makes triumphant return to 'scene of crime'

Mariano Rivera of the Yankees laughs in the

Mariano Rivera of the Yankees laughs in the dugout during batting practice. (May 7, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Mariano Rivera's return to the scene of the crime included a crime scene.

Or at least some Yankees staff members' attempt at creating one.

When the closer, whose 2012 season ended on the track here in left-center when he tore his right ACL shagging fly balls in batting practice, headed to the outfield early Friday night, he was greeted by a hand-painted sign taped to the wall near the site.

"No Mo Zone," it read.

And on the track, around the spot Rivera crumpled upon getting hurt, a crude chalk outline of a body.

The 43-year-old, who said he fully expected to be made fun of upon his return here, broke into a huge smile and laughed upon seeing the pranks, executed primarily by bullpen coach Mike Harkey, coaching assistant Brett Weber and clubhouse manager Lou Cucuzza Jr.

Undeterred, Rivera shagged flies while the Yankees took batting practice, exactly what he said he'd do.

"Nothing's going to change," Rivera said of his first trip to Kansas City. "I'm going to do what I love to do. I might go to the same spot where I landed. I'm going to enjoy it. There's nothing to regret."

Rivera said he did not have any negative feeling about the city, and his reflection would be on how far he's come since falling to the warning track last May and being carted off, in that moment unsure if he'd ever pitch again.

"I will enjoy it definitely because that moment and seeing where I am right now, that's gratifying," he said. "I'm thanking the Lord for me being here. Being there [last May 3] and appreciate what you go through. It could have happened in New York, it could have happened anywhere. It happened in Kansas City. This isn't going to put me down and say I don't want to be here. I want to be there."

Rivera, who announced his intent to retire before the season, entered Friday night looking as if the injury never happened, 13-for-13 in save chances with a 1.88 ERA. His success, he said, has not surprised him.

"I trust the Lord and I believe in the abilities he's given me and I trust myself," Rivera said. "I won't say surprised. I just wanted to make sure the leg was good. I didn't have any doubt at all. I knew as long as my leg was good, I'd be OK."

Notes & quotes: Joba Chamberlain (oblique strain) threw a bullpen session and could be sent out on a rehab assignment Monday . . . Eduardo Nuñez, who hasn't played since Sunday because of tightness in his rib cage, took indoor batting practice and Joe Girardi said he could be in the lineup Saturday night . . . Girardi said his pitching rotation for Monday's doubleheader in Cleveland was still undetermined and didn't rule out CC Sabathia, who threw four innings Thursday before a rain delay, as a possibility to start . . . Girardi said Kevin Youkilis (back) is doing better, but didn't expect him back anytime soon. "I don't have an expectation when we're going to see him," Girardi said. "I know he's going in the right direction."

New York Sports