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Rivera tears ACL, could be done for year

05/04/2012 2:14 AM ET
By Joe Auriemma / YESNetwork.com

Rivera hoped the injury would not be too severe, but an MRI revealed a torn ACL.(AP)

The greatest there is and the greatest there ever was. Mariano Rivera embodies what is so terrific and right about the game. There are no words to describe what he's meant to baseball, ultimately changing the game forever. The man who is as old as the number on his back has delighted a whole generation of Yankees fans, some who don't remember what it's like to not see near invincibility night in and night out. A Hall of Famer both on and off the field is the true definition of Rivera.

He got called up to the Yankees as a lanky starting pitcher and stuck with the team in 1996, making his mark as the elite reliever in the game of baseball. In 1997, he developed his infamous cutter that to this day is still almost unhittable. Rivera called it a gift from God, but to Yankees fans he is the gift. He is the model of consistency and the most humble superstar in all of sports.

The great Mariano hinted all throughout Spring Training that this could be his last hurrah. The five-time World Champion and all-time saves leader had little left to prove playing baseball and a lot of himself to give to the world. He makes no bones about it, giving back to people is his priority in life.

That brings us to a regular Thursday night in Kansas City. In the first game of the series, Mariano Rivera did what he always did during his 18-year career, shag fly balls in centerfield before the game. It's been said that he's the most athletic player on the field and could have been a successful Major Leaguer as an everyday position player. Rivera glided like a gazelle as he always does for a routine fly ball, but this time he lost his footing and crashed into the wall. As he fell to the ground he was writhing in pain. Alex Rodriguez saw the entire thing and just proclaimed, “Oh my God!”

The first reports were that it was just a twisted right knee, but the pain was evident on his face when it happened as he clutched his leg. The report at the end of the game after examination was a torn ACL and meniscus damage in his right knee -- the diagnosis no one wants to hear. He is going to get checked by doctors in New York to confirm what is pretty much already known, that he might very well miss the rest of the 2012 season.

This isn't how it was supposed to happen. A man boasting gaudy numbers such as a 76-58 record, with a 2.21 E.R.A and 608 saves is not supposed to go out like this.

Rivera, along with the rest of his teammates, was completely shaken up after the Yankees' 4-3 loss to the Royals. As well they should be. This is a major hit to the Yankees.

“No, I thought it wasn't that bad. I was walking a little bit, but it's torn and I have to fix it,” Rivera said after the game.

It was a very emotional moment for the greatest closer of all-time addressing the media. He admitted that the pain is more mental than physical right now and it showed in his face.

He also stated that he won't return home immediately to meet with doctors in New York because, as he said, “I want to stay with the team I just want to be here for the guys and make sure the guys are ok.”

When asked if this might be the end of his illustrious career, Rivera simply stated, “At this point I don't know. We have to face this first.” Adding that he wanted to pray and start working to rehab before he ultimately made a decision.

David Robertson will most likely step up as the closer of the Yankees. He's been absolutely terrific over the last two seasons and will certainly fill in admirably. Rivera would like nothing more than his teammates and his successor for the time being to go on and succeed with his full support. “Now we just have to fight,” he said.

Fans of the game all over the world certainly hope that he fights to get back to doing the thing he loves and the thing everyone loves watching him do and that's play baseball.

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