Yankees’ Mariano Rivera Hints That 2012 Season Will Be His Last

Mariano Rivera, whose 603 saves over 17 years with the New York Yankees are the most in Major League Baseball history, said the 2012 season may be his last, although he’s not ready to announce his decision.

“It can be tomorrow, it can be in August, it can be in July, but I will definitely let you know,” Rivera, 42, told reporters yesterday at the team’s spring training facility in Tampa, Florida. “I won’t let you know now, but I know. I want to do my job, always, but I made my decision already.”

Rivera, who has helped the Yankees win five World Series titles, surpassed Trevor Hoffman’s career saves record in September, establishing a mark that some baseball historians said may stand forever. No other reliever has more than 500 saves and the closest active pitcher, 36-year-old Francisco Cordero, is 276 saves behind Rivera.

The son of a Panamanian fisherman, Rivera is coming off a season in which he had 44 saves and a 1.91 earned run average, his 11th year with an ERA under 2.00. Rivera has averaged 40 saves since 1997, when he took over as the Yankees’ closer.

Rivera has an 8-1 record with a 0.71 ERA in a record 94 postseason appearances and his 42 career playoff saves are 24 more than any other pitcher.

“Decisions like that are hard,” Rivera said when asked about the possibility of retirement. “It involves what you do, it involves what you have done for 22 years. At the same time, they have to be made.”

Rivera is entering the final season of a two-year, $30 million contract with the Yankees, the only team he’s played for during his major-league career.

Former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, one of Rivera’s closest friends, retired last month after 17 major-league seasons at the age of 40. Rivera said he’s not quite ready to follow yet.

“When I let you guys know, you guys will know,” Rivera told reporters yesterday. “I’m going to leave it at that.”

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