Yesterday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked by reporters if Mariano Rivera could cap off his Hall-of-Fame career by being granted one final wish-- to play centerfield. Girardi sounded like, under the right conditions, he would consider it.
Today, on the Mike Francesa Show, Rivera was asked if he wanted to play one game, one inning or one out at the No. 8 position.
"Just one inning," the unassuming Rivera replied. "If I caught one ball in centerfield, that would be it."
It sounds like it's more than a flight of fancy for Mo.
"I have one more year left," said the 41 year-old Rivera, "So I will be pursuing that position."
When pigs fly or when Jorge Posada plays second base. Oh wait, the 38 year-old catcher did, so now it's might be hard for Girardi to deny Rivera one of his final wishes on his major league bucket list.
Rivera checked off another to-do item when he had his one-and-only at-bat in the July of 2009-- a ninth-inning, bases-loaded pop-up-- which had the Yankees dugout rolling with laughter.
Now, it's time to bring John Fogarty's immortal song to life.
"Put me in, coach-- I'm ready to play today, Look at me, I can be Centerfield."
In a week when Rivera reached the 600-save milestone, is poised to pass Trevor Hoffman on the all-time list and being lauded as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, it seems like a given that before the season's end we will see Rivera penciled in at centerfield-- under the right circumstances.
Or won't we?
Rivera is a gifted athlete and shags flies in centerfield all the time during batting practice. It seems unlikely he would embarrass himself or make a silly error. I mean look at the pressure-filled position he already excels at.
"He's incredible," said Girardi.
If there's a meaningless blowout before the end of the season, could we honestly not think of that scenario happening at this point of Rivera's career?
"I'll think about that when he tells me he's near the end," said Girardi. "It's something I would definitely think about. That'll get me in trouble, won't it?"
Sounds like he is already given the idea some thought.
"Maybe I'd try it for one hitter," said the manager. "A guy who hits a lot of ground balls, strikes out a lot... and there would be nobody on base where he'd have to make a throw."
Gloomy Gusses are already pointing out the dangers and hurdles. Besides blowing the play-- unlikely-- or twisting an ankle chasing down a fly ball (devastating); meaningless games come around about as often as an A.J. Burnett August win during a September playoff race, and the Yankees can't afford for any of those negatives from occurring.
So, when would the best time for Girardi to play fairy godfather and grant Rivera his final wish?
Rivera has one more year left on his contract but next season could be too late. There's always the possibility of injury or a tighter playoff race to curtail his longing.
I say, this year, first blow-out at Yankee Stadium, put him in. It's the least the Yankees could do for Mariano Rivera Appreciation Week.
It's the least they could do for the Sandman.