Saturday, September 28, 2013

Girardi: Playing centerfield is now Mariano's call

It's not hard to believe that throughout all of the season-long tributes and "farewell" swag piling up in his living room, the gift that Mariano Rivera might end up holding most dearly to his heart after he retires was the opportunity to play center field in a major-league game just once.

Now that the Yankees season is officially kaput, there is a real possibility that Mariano Rivera will be granted his last baseball wish and play center field this weekend against the long out-of-it Astros in Minute Maid Park.

Manager Joe Girardi said before last night's series opener against Houston that it still is possible that the Yankees' retiring closer will fulfill his longtime dream of playing in the outfield in a major-league game —but it's up to Mo.

"I'll talk to him every day to see what he wants to do,'' Girardi said. "I know he's talked about playing some centerfield, but I know he has some concern about his [knee] running out there. So that's really up to him. If he wants to do it, he can do it. I'm OK with it.''

Baseball purists have called an outfield stint by Rivera a trivialisation of the game. And it was not clear if Rivera was still keen on the idea after mentioning his wobbly knee and need to respect the game.  It was not even known if Rivera will pitch this weekend. After Thursday night's emotional send-off at Yankee Stadium, Girardi said he will take it day-by-day.

"I have to talk to Mo,'' he said. "See what he wants to do.''

Still, don't bet against Mo tackling Tal's Hill Sunday afternoon as a well-deserved wrap up to his illustrious career. Purists be damned.

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