Mariano Rivera climbed atop a bullpen mound at George M. Steinbrenner Field during the first day of workouts, an unfamiliar sight for the New York Yankees in recent years.
But this isn't just any year for the 43-year-old closer as he works his way back from last season's torn ACL in his right knee.
"It was wonderful to be out there again, especially another spring training," Rivera said. "I was grateful."
Rivera was wearing a small brace on his surgically repaired knee and, although he may have been running a step slower during fielding drills, his delivery on the mound looked as smooth as ever.
"It looked normal to me," manager Joe Girardi said. "It looked like the first day of spring training for any year that I've been here. The command was there, he took it nice and slow and didn't try to overthrow. He's been doing it for so long, I think he's pretty aware of what he has to do."
Rivera said he wasn't even thinking about his knee as he threw his 25 pitches. While Rivera may have his share of doubters, the legendary closer believes he'll be as good as ever by the time the season starts April 1.
"I always demand myself that," Rivera said. "I'm looking for that. Otherwise I wouldn't be here."