TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says this will be his final season.
Rivera made the announcement Saturday at the team’s spring training complex. There was word this week that he will retire after the season, and he made it official at a news conference.
Asked how he wanted to end his career, Rivera said, “The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series.
“Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition.”
The 43-year-old Rivera holds the career saves record with 608 and has helped the Yankees win five World Series titles. He is regarded as the greatest closer of all time, whether he’s throwing his cut fastball in the regular season or postseason. Rivera missed most of last year after tearing his right knee while shagging flyballs during batting practice in early May.
He began the news conference by playfully thanking the Yankees for giving him a new contract for two additional years through 2015 _ which would break a team policy of not negotiating new deals before the old ones expire.
“It’s not too easy when you come to a decision like this,” Rivera said, turning serious. “After this year, I will be retired. … Now you’re hearing it from me. It’s official now.”
Rivera said he would have retired at the end of last season if he had not gotten hurt.
“I didn’t want to leave like that,” he said. “I felt like I wanted to give everything.”
While others have proclaimed him the best closer in baseball history, Rivera wouldn’t put that label on himself.
“I don’t feel myself, the greatest of all time. I’m a team player,” he said. “I would love to be remembered as a player who was always there for others.”
Rivera has not pitched in an exhibition game this spring. He usually goes at his own pace in camp, working in the bullpen and throwing in simulated games.
The 12-time All-Star has earned a record 42 saves in the postseason while putting up an 0.70 ERA. He began his major league career in 1995 and has spent his entire time with the Yankees.
Rivera made just nine appearances last season before he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.
Rivera returned to his native Panama earlier this week on a personal matter. His wife and two children were by his side for the news conference.