Rivera reports no problems with back
Closer says he would be able to pitch if needed in Texas
ARLINGTON -- Mariano Rivera jogged off the field Monday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark and uttered the four words that manager Joe Girardi most wanted to hear.
"I don't feel anything," Rivera said.
That much was significant, because Rivera spent Sunday fighting back spasms between his right shoulder blade and upper back. The Yankees held him out of that game and remained unsure of his availability until he completed his regular pregame routine on Monday. Although Girardi said he might shy away from his closer in a potential save situation, Rivera insisted such precautions wouldn't be necessary.
"They decided to shut me down," Rivera said. "If they ask me, I would tell them yes. But they have the last word."
If the Yankees do avoid Rivera, they would likely turn to Damaso Marte, who earned five saves with the Pirates earlier this year. Marte served as a closer for the White Sox during parts of four seasons and last fired a scoreless inning for the Yankees on Friday.
"I would lean toward him," Girardi said. "But that's not 100 percent."
Rivera said he wouldn't need a substitute, however, because his back was no longer ailing. The Yankees would be glad to have no qualms about using their closer, who has yet to blow a save this season. Rivera has compiled 26 saves and a 1.49 ERA in 48 1/3 innings, striking out 58 batters and walking just five.
He traveled to Texas on Monday wanting to pitch, though that hardly matters.
"I don't decide that," Rivera said. "The Yankees decide that."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.