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Injured Mariano Rivera vows to return to pitching

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mariano Rivera's career isn't over yet.

"I'm coming back," Rivera said Friday afternoon. "Put it down. Write it down in big letters. I ain't going down like this."

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Mariano Rivera grimaces after tearing his ACL shagging fly balls. (AP)

The all-time saves leader, who tore the ACL in his right knee when he landed awkwardly shagging batting-practice fly balls Thursday, said he expects to miss the rest of the 2012 season, though he added: "Miracles happen."

Rivera said he made the decision in his hotel room following the New York Yankees' 4-3 loss to Kansas City. Following the game, Rivera said through tears that he wasn't sure whether he would return.

He made up his mind quickly following a conversation with his wife, who he said is flying into Kansas City and still doesn't know of his plans to return in 2013. Rivera planned to inform his teammates during a pregame meeting, though he made sure to tell Yankees captain Derek Jeter about his plans before meeting with the media.

Rivera said he will have surgery to repair the torn ligament as well as a meniscus tear. While there is precedent for pitchers returning from ACL injuries within a season – Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo came back to pitch in the 2008 playoffs after tearing his in May – the likelihood is that Rivera will spend the majority of the season rehabbing with his sights on pitching in spring training. And when he does so, it will be with the Yankees.

"They'll want the old goat," he said.

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