When he suffered a season-ending knee injury in May, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said he did not want his career to end with him being carried off the field in Kansas City on a cart.
Now, he's not so sure.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told New York reporters Thursday that baseball's all-time saves leader has not made up his mind about returning next season.
"I talked to Mariano Tuesday night, and he is not sure what he's interested in doing just yet," Cashman said, according to MLB.com. "I think in spring training (this year) he was intending to retire at the end of the year, so I don't think he knows what he wants to do just yet. Am I surprised by that? No."
Rivera, 42, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament May 3 while going after a flyball in the outfield during batting practice. He did not have surgery until June 12 because he had to wait for the swelling to go down.
"I'm coming back," Rivera said the next day. "Write it down in big letters. I'm not going out like this. This has me thinking, I can't go down like this. If the good Lord gives me the opportunity to come back and do it again, that's what I want to do."
As recently as mid-July, Rivera was aiming for a return before the end of the season.
"That's my goal," Rivera said on ESPN radio. "Definitely, that's my goal. I'm not thinking about it, because if it doesn't happen, I will be disappointed. So I'm taking it day by day. I'm working hard and doing what I'm supposed to do."
Rivera never made it back this year, but Rafael Soriano did an excellent job filling the Yankees' closer role. Soriano successfully converted 42 saves in 46 opportunities.
Rivera will be a free agent this winter. Soriano has an opt-out clause in his contract that allows him to void the final year of his deal, which calls for him to earn $14 million.
If Rivera were to come back next year, Soriano likely would opt out of his deal and attempt to land a three-year contract from another team to remain a closer. However, if Rivera is out of the picture in the Bronx, the Yankees could be the leading bidder for Soriano's services both short- and long-term. In that case, Soriano might elect to play out the final season of his contract with New York while seeking an extension.
In an 18-year career spent entirely with the Yankees, Rivera has 608 saves, a 76-58 record and a 2.21 ERA in 1,051 appearances. He has also been the greatest postseason reliever of all time, going 8-1 with 42 saves and a 0.70 ERA in 96 appearances. Rivera, a 12-time All-Star, has been a key part of five World Series championship teams.