"Answer to Annual Question: No, Rivera Hasn't Lost His Edge"--NY Times, Kepner
- a 13-year veteran who has pitched the equivalent of another full season and a half in October.***
- “He’s just a freak of nature,” the Toronto Blue Jays’ Frank Thomas said. “He’s mastered a pitch. People say he’s going to lose it. He’s not going to lose it.”
- Rivera has converted his last 18 save opportunities, allowing just two earned runs in 21 and 1/3 innings in those games, with no walks and 22 strikeouts. The Yankees are 57-1 when leading after eight innings, the loss coming in Oakland on April 15....
- His ability extends beyond the mound. Rivera does not have the title of captain, but he fills that role for the pitching staff. He coaxed two strong years from Tom Gordon, in 2004 and 2005, and has now become a mentor to his current setup man, Luis Vizcaino.
“He’s my teacher, my everything,” Vizcaino said. “I’m happy to hang out with that guy, because he gives me a lot of confidence. Every day, I talk with him.”
Rivera has an elevated status among players around the league. He is one of them, but clearly on a higher plane.
- No one wants to think about replacing him, but this week’s promotion of Joba Chamberlain offers a glimpse at a possible successor.
The Yankees view Chamberlain, 21, as a starter for the long term. But with a 100 mile-per-hour fastball and a wicked array of off-speed pitches, he may have the stuff to be a dominant closer. He threw two scoreless innings in his debut on Tuesday.
“You can be anything you want, as long as you work at it,” Rivera said. “Hopefully, he can be the man -- hopefully. It’s a lot of work, and it’s a long time to go...."
“But, definitely, I like the kid and I will do everything I can to do my best for him and be there to help.”"
From NY Times article by Tyler Kepner, "Rivera, Far From Losing It, Takes on Role of Mentor," (original title), and "Answer to Annual Question: No, Rivera Hasn't Lost His Edge" (title for same article in late edition) 8/10/07.
- (Suzyn Waldman on Yankee radio Wednesday night noted Joba Chamberlain talking at length with Mariano, the latter doing most of the talking. She said not all of them take advantage of this resource!).
- P.S. Patience pays off.
- Rivera is the "All-Time Saves" Leader in American League history--not a stat you'll ever hear about.