Yankees’ Rivera Says He’ll Return to Pitch After Knee Surgery

New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera, the Major League Baseball career leader with 608 saves, vowed to return to the mound after knee surgery.

Rivera, 42, tore a ligament in his right knee while catching fly balls in center field during batting practice two nights ago before a game at Kansas City.

“I’m coming back,” he told reporters yesterday. “Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this.”

Rivera will be examined by team doctor Christopher Ahmad after the team returns to the New York following tomorrow’s game in Kansas City, the Yankees said. The right-hander had asked if he could continue to pitch wearing a brace, but that idea was rejected, according to the team’s website.

Manager Joe Girardi said right-handers David Robertson and Rafael Soriano will share the closer’s role for the time being.

“You’re probably going to see both of them at some point,” Girardi said on the Yankees website. “I believe we have capable arms down there. Mo is Mo. I’m not saying it’s easy to replace him, but guys have to step up a little bit, given an opportunity.”

Robertson pitched the ninth inning of last night’s 6-2 win over the Royals, striking out the side in a non-save situation.

Rivera has a 76-58 record with 608 saves and a 2.21 earned run average over an 18-year career spent entirely with the Yankees. He’s totaled a record 42 postseason saves, more than twice as many as any other pitcher, in helping New York win five World Series titles and is 8-1 with a 0.71 ERA in 96 career playoff appearances.

Rivera has a $30 million, two-year contract that expires at the end of this season.

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