Rivera Injures Knee in Pregame Practice
By DAVID WALDSTEIN
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — If there has been one constant with the Yankees during the recent edition of their dynasty, it has been the unparalleled success and durability of their closer, Mariano Rivera.
But Rivera crumpled to the ground in agony Thursday, and all that may have changed. Suddenly, the Yankees’ fortunes this season appear very unclear.
Rivera, 42, injured his right knee while chasing a fly ball off the bat of the newly recalled Jayson Nix during batting practice before the Yankees’ game against the Royals. As Rivera ran toward the center-field wall, his knee buckled and he crashed to the ground on the warning track. Alex Rodriguez, who was waiting for his turn in the batting cage, twice said, “Oh my God,” and Manager Joe Girardi ran out to Rivera.
Girardi helped carry Rivera to a cart, which drove him off the field.
The Yankees announced a preliminary diagnosis of a twisted right knee after Rivera was examined by the Royals’ associate team physician, Dr. Joe Noland, and the Yankees’ training staff. He was taken to Kansas University MedWest hospital for a magnetic resonance imaging test.
As grim-faced teammates, coaches and Girardi stood by, Rivera writhed on the ground in pain, clutching at his knee. He was wheeled into the tunnel, where he had to be helped into the clubhouse.
An outstanding athlete, Rivera fancies himself a credible center fielder, even pleading with Girardi to allow him to play center in a game before he retires. Girardi said he wanted to accommodate Rivera, but was too worried about an injury to let him go through with it.
Rivera has been a fixture in center field during batting practice, along with the other pitchers. But he always chased fly balls with more zeal and effort.
Before spring training this year, Rivera hinted that this would be his final season in baseball. He said he knew what his decision was, and nothing could make him change his mind. But at the time, he probably did not consider the possibility of a serious injury.Rivera has not been on the disabled list since 2003,
when he missed the first 25 games of the season with a groin injury sustained in spring training.