by Bill Madden NY Daily News
The farewell tour begins this weekend.
The greatest closer of all-time is preparing for his closing act, as Mariano Rivera announced Saturday that he will retire at the end of the season.
The Yankees set a press conference for 10 a.m. Saturday in the pavilion at Steinbrenner Field. Rivera has informed the team of what he plans to say, but GM Brian Cashman opted to let Rivera make the announcement himself.
“Just wait until Saturday,” Cashman said Thursday. “Mo will talk to you guys on Saturday.”
Following the Yankees' loss to the Cardinals in Jupiter, Joe Girardi said he was aware of the press conference, but he also declined to get into details. Rivera is slated to make his first appearance of the spring Saturday afternoon against the Braves.
“I’m aware of what the press conference might be, yeah,” Girardi said. “When you have a press conference, I think it’s only fair for the person having the press conference to explain why he’s having the press conference.”
Rivera revealed the decision he came to before spring training, one he toyed with last year before suffering a season-ending torn ACL in early-May. When Rivera arrived at camp last month.
Asked at the time why he wanted to wait to make his announcement, Rivera said, “It’s something that I have to do. Other things. Personals. Don’t worry, the time will come. You guys have been patient enough.”
Girardi granted permission for Rivera to go home to New York for a couple days this week as the Yankees were making a two-day road trip. He returned to Tampa Thursday, though it was unclear whether he would take part in the team’s workout at Steinbrenner Field on Friday.
News of Rivera's impending retirement made its way through the visiting clubhouse in Jupiter, prompting teammates to gush over the legendary closer and what he has meant to both the Yankees and the game.
“A lot of people over the years have asked me, especially when I go back to Japan, they would ask who was the guy that you didn't want to face or the toughest guy that you faced,” Ichiro Suzuki said through his translator. “He was probably the one that would come up at the top of my list.”