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Mariano Rivera's final chapter

Yankees legendary closer expected to retire after 2013 season
03/07/2013 3:28 PM ET
By Jack Curry

Mariano Rivera is baseball's all-time saves leader and regarded as the greatest to ever perform at his position.(AP)
TAMPA - We all knew this day was coming. Someday soon, Mariano Rivera would sit down, thank everyone for attending his news conference and then tell the world he wasn't planning to play baseball anymore. When Rivera first arrived for Spring Training with the Yankees last month, he strongly hinted that 2013 would be his final season. Now he is expected to finally confirm that decision.

After ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that Rivera could announce his retirement as early as Saturday, Joel Sherman of The New York Post tweeted that Rivera would have a news conference at 10 a.m. on Saturday. While Rivera's retirement announcement is probable, one source added that there was a remote chance that Rivera could change his mind.

Rivera has a rarified place in baseball history. He is the greatest closer ever, a stoic assassin with a cut fastball whose postseason statistics are absolutely ridiculous. There are so many layers to Rivera's legacy, so many different numbers and stories that make him such a memorable player. But what he has accomplished in the postseason will always be as remarkable as anything else he did. So many relievers have fizzled in October. Rivera has flourished.

Video: Rivera saves No. 602

Whenever people ask me which player I like interviewing the most, I always say Rivera. When you speak to Rivera, it is more of a conversation than an interview. He looks you in the eye, he answers questions politely and, most of the time, he educates you. When Rivera retires, he will take a world of wisdom out the door with him. The clubhouse will be an emptier place.

The Yankees will find a successor for Rivera, whether it is David Robertson, Mark Montgomery or someone else. But they will never replace Rivera. How could anyone be as dominant as Rivera? With Rivera in the bullpen, the Yankees believed that they simply needed to get the lead by the eighth inning and they were guaranteed to win. As Derek Jeter often said, "When Mo comes in, we feel the game is over."

At the age of 43, Rivera has apparently decided he has one year left in his amazing arm. He will pitch on a surgically-repaired right knee, the knee he destroyed last May. I never thought Rivera would retire after that injury. He had to return and craft a more suitable final chapter. That chapter will unfold throughout 2013. Cherish it. This story won't be written again.

Follow Jack Curry on Twitter: @JackCurryYES

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