Tampa, FL – New York Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera has decided the 2013 season will be his last.
Rivera, baseball's all-time saves leader with 608, made the announcement on Saturday morning with his family by his side at the Yankees' spring training complex.
"It's not too easy when you come to a decision like this," said Rivera, who first joked that he had received a contract extension. "It has been a privilege and an honor to wear the pinstripes that I have proudly worn for so many years."
The 43-year-old right-hander said Saturday he would have retired after the 2012 season if he had not suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in early May. He was hurt while shagging fly balls during batting practice before a game against Kansas City and missed the remainder of the season.
Rivera initially said he would return for 2013 because he did not want to go out with an injury. He then reportedly was unsure before telling Yankees general manager Brian Cashman in November that he would indeed come back.
"Now is the time," Rivera stated when asked why at this time. "The little gas that I have left is for this year. There's nothing left. I did everything and I'm proud. I will never stop missing the game, or the action on the field, and my teammates."
Asked if he would make a comeback similar to long-time teammate Andy Pettitte, Rivera joked with his fellow pitcher before saying it would not happen.
"Andy, what's wrong with you?" he quipped toward a laughing Pettitte, one of many teammates in attendance for the press conference.
"I have just a few bullets left and I know, after this year, you won't see me on the field playing baseball. I did what I love, I did it with passion, but after this year I know I won't do it for the wrong reason. I just want to stay home and close the door and do what is next."
The 12-time All-Star appeared in just nine games last season and managed five saves with a 2.16 earned run average and a 1-1 record. He had registered at least 28 saves in 15 consecutive years prior to 2012 and is considered the best closer of all-time and a sure Hall of Famer.
"If it wasn't for my teammates, I would never have had the opportunity," he said when asked how he wanted to be remembered. "The legacy that I want to leave is that I was there for others."
Rivera, set to make his first spring training appearance on Saturday, has been even more dominant in the postseason, winning five World Series titles with the Yankees while posting 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA in 141 innings over 96 games.
Included in his postseason heroics was a record 33 1/3-inning scoreless streak, the 1999 World Series MVP and 2003 ALCS MVP.
Rivera said he would still like to have a role in baseball, working with minor leaguers in some capacity.
"The big leaguers, they are a bunch of old men there," Rivera stated. "I want to (help) with the minor leaguers."
Rivera said he came to a final decision about retirement before heading to training camp and confided in a few people prior to Saturday's announcement, including Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner, Cashman and some teammates, including Derek Jeter.