Mariano Rivera to pitch Saturday; Jeter next?

Yankees hope to have remaining "Core Four" members in games by next week
03/06/2013 10:49 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Mariano Rivera will make his spring debut on Saturday.(AP)
The three remaining members of the Yankees’ “Core Four” have yet to see Grapefruit League action, but that will change in the very near future.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi told YES Network’s Jack Curry on Tuesday night that closer Mariano Rivera is ready to go, and will make his spring debut on Saturday when the Bombers host the Braves in Tampa.

Prior to Tuesday’s loss to the Braves, Girardi had said there was a good chance Rivera would debut Wednesday against the Dominican Republic WBC team – saying “I’ll talk to him and see what he thinks” – but reversed his thoughts a few hours later; the Yankees will travel to the east coast of Florida for games Thursday and Friday, so it’s likely the push back to Saturday is meant to keep “The Sandman” off the road.

As for Derek Jeter, Sunday is March 10, the day GM Brian Cashman had intimated would be The Captain’s return date, and Girardi hasn’t ruled out his return that day or shortly after as a possibility.

“He’s doing well. He’s progressing the way we want, so we’ll see where he is this week,” Girardi said. (We) should know in the next few days if (March 10) is a real possibility.”

The Yankees are on the road that day as well (they play the Blue Jays in Dunedin), so as is the case with Rivera, it’s possible that the date could be pushed back a day or two to keep Jeter on home turf if he is in fact ready to go.

The Captain himself said Wednesday that he only needed to run the bases at full speed before being cleared to play, and said that "as soon I can play, I'll be in there.

Andy Pettitte also is yet to appear, but he will throw another simulated game in Tampa on Friday while the Yankees are in Jupiter; if all goes well, he would be on scheduled and could make his debut next Wednesday against Philadelphia at Steinbrenner Field.

Girardi also said after Tuesday’s game that righty Jose Ramirez will start that Saturday game that could see the return of Mo, and on Sunday, David Phelps will continue on cycle and make his fourth spring start in Dunedin while CC Sabathia stays in Tampa to throw another simulated game.

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