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Mariano Rivera to reveal plans before Opening Day

02/13/2013 2:10 PM ET
By Jon Lane

Mariano Rivera is entering his 19th season of Major League Baseball.(AP)

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Mariano Rivera has made up his mind on whether or not 2013 will be his final season, but chose not to reveal his decision to reporters following New York Yankees pitchers' and catchers' first workout of Spring Training. The closer added he will make an announcement regarding next year before the start of the regular season.

"Yes, I have," Rivera said, "but I won't give it up until I'm ready. I will tell you guys when I think it's the right moment.'"

Rivera threw about 25 pitches in a bullpen session on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Manager Joe Girardi believes Rivera is healed, but couldn't speculate whether or not the all-time great closer will call it a career after the season.

"For Mo, who knows when the end is going to be," Girardi said.

Rivera is nine months removed from tearing the ACL in his right knee while shagging fly balls in the outfield, part of his normal pregame ritual. Rafael Soriano took over the closer's role and converted 42 of 46 save opportunities with a 2.26 ERA before signing a two-year contract with the Washington Nationals in January. Prior to last season, Rivera suggested that he was considering retirement, but then refused to end his Hall-of-Fame career laying down on the warning track at Kansas City's Ewing Kauffman Stadium.

Entering this coming season, Rivera insists it will be business as usual, including running down fly balls.

"I don't want to change," Rivera said. "I will do whatever it takes to be myself again. I don't want to be someone that I'm not. I have to be careful? Yeah. I'm always careful. The injury happened because the Lord permit it. I have to be ready, and if shagging is part of my routine, then I'll be doing it. How much? I don't know, but I'll be doing it."

Rivera had surgery in June and in November agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract to return as closer. Although Rivera is 43 years old, Girardi isn't concerned about Rivera's health or ability to pitch to the standards that made him baseball's all-time saves leader with 608.

"I would be more worried about Mo if it was his arm instead of the knee,'' Girardi said. "I don't think it will affect his pitching. If it was a shoulder or elbow, I would be more concerned.''

After becoming Yankees closer in 1997, Rivera blossomed into a 12-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion. His individual accolades include five American League Rolaids Relief Man and three Delivery Man of the Year awards.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC

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