Mariano Rivera: Will Torn ACL Push Legendary Yankees Closer into Retirement?

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMay 4, 2012

It's ironic that New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, the all-time leader in saves, tore his ACL chasing a fly ball in batting practice before Thursday's game against the Kansas City Royals, via ESPN.

Manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday night that it was only a "preliminary report," but it could be "as bad as it gets."

Rivera, who regularly would shag fly balls before games with the other pitchers, actually seemed to relish playing center field before games, and even had urged Girardi to put him in center field before he retired.

Now Rivera, 42, could be nearing the end of his career after a devastating injury. Before this year, River hinted that this would be his final season. Unfortunately, it may end much earlier than he could have dreamed, with just nine games under his belt.

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 23:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees throws against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on April 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If Rivera retires following his torn ACL, he would go down as arguably the greatest closer and greatest postseason closer to ever play the game of baseball. In 1,051 career games, he posted an astounding 2.21 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, while converting 608 of 681 save opportunities (89 percent). He racked up 1,119 strikeouts in just over 1,219 innings.

But despite his dominance throughout the years, an injury like this at this stage of his career could mean the end. There's a possibility he gives it another go next season, but you would have to think he knew the time was right when he hinted about retiring before this season. He doesn't have to play another year—he's already established a remarkable legacy.   

Rivera has been a joy to watch for 18 seasons, but he could have just ended his career by an incident not on the mound, but in center field. For a player who has dominated on the mound for so long, it doesn't seem right.


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