THURSDAY: Rivera told reporters that he plans to return to baseball, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. "I am coming back. Write it down in big letters. … I'm not going out like this," said the closer.
WEDNESDAY, 11:40pm: Mariano Rivera appears to have suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters after tonight's 4-3 loss in Kansas City. Rivera suffered the injury while chasing a fly ball during batting practice earlier today, a pre-game ritual that Rivera has undertaken throughout his entire career. The ace closer will consult with doctors tomorrow in New York and, if the initial diagnosis is confirmed, Rivera will miss the rest of the 2012 season.
Speculation has already begun that Rivera's career could be over, as the right-hander had hinted during Spring Training that this would be his final season. A disconsolate Rivera told reporters (including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch and Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan) that he wasn't sure if he would ever pitch again and that he would first have to get through the rehab process before deciding if he could continue as a Major Leaguer. It's hard to imagine that Rivera would allow his legendary career to end in such ignominious fashion, and yet, as Bob Klapisch points out (Twitter link), Rivera could also see his injury as a sign that it's time to leave the sport.
Needless to say, Rivera's injury is a huge blow to both the Yankees and, if his career is indeed over, to baseball as a whole. For now, David Robertson or Rafael Soriano will have big shoes to fill as New York's next closer. The Yankees could also now explore the trade market for relief pitching or explore such options as moving Phil Hughes back to the bullpen.