This Sunday is Mariano Rivera Day at Yankee Stadium — a day set aside to commemorate the Hall of Fame career of the greatest closer in baseball history. However, as the New York Post's Ken Davidoff writes, Rivera came close to never saving a game in Yankee pinstripes. Prior to the 1996 season, the Yankees debated flipping Rivera to the Mariners in exchange for offensively challenged shortstop Felix Fermin because they weren't sure a hot prospect by the name of Derek Jeter was ready. Several members of the Yankees staff, including then-assistant-GM Brian Cashman and then-manager Joe Torre talked president George Steinbrenner out of the deal. Jeter went on to win the AL Rookie of the Year award, while Rivera finished third in the Cy Young voting with 107 2/3 innings of dominant relief work. Here's more from around the league…
- Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick will be shut down after getting a second opinion on his injured right shoulder, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Though the move could be purely precautionary, Kendrick had expected to return to the rotation. As Zolecki notes, any concern over Kendrick's shoulder could play a role in the team's decision whether to offer him salary arbitration. The 29-year-old is set to reach his fourth and final season of arbitration eligibility, and will be due a raise on the $4.5MM he earned last year. He has struggled to a 4.70 ERA in 182 innings on the season, his worst campaign since 2010. Advanced metrics see things somewhat differently, though they do not necessarily make him look much more appealing in broader terms: Kendrick's 4.01 FIP and 4.15 xFIP are actually the second-best tallies of his career. By measure of SIERA, the hurler has never posted a sub-4.00 season.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that phenom Archie Bradley will not reach the bigs this year, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. "To add him to the roster in the winter when roster spots are very valuable to us — and the team being pretty much out of contention — didn't make a lot of sense," said Towers. The 21-year-old starter will, however, get a chance to earn a spot in the club's 2014 rotation in spring training, according to the Snakes' GM.
- Wladimir Balentien's historic season in Japan has led to speculation that he might be a big league target in spite of his long-term deal with the Yakult Swallows. For his part, however, Balentien insists he has had no thoughts of a move, per a Nikkan Sports report (link in Japanese) transmitted via Twitter by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. "No. I'm surprised that's come up," said Balentien in reference to the rumors."I'm with the Swallows for four years."
- Marty Brennaman, the Reds' radio voice since 1974, has just inked a new three-year deal at age 71, reports Nick Hurm of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Brennaman received the Ford C. Frick Award over thirteen years back, and partnered with fellow legend Joe Nuxhall for over thirty seasons.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.