Mariano Rivera made his spring debut on Sunday for the New York Yankees. It was a little later in the spring than you’d see most pitchers get their first work in, but Rivera has graduated to the point where he operates on his own schedule. He’s completely autonomous. In fact, I heard Rivera doesn’t even have road jerseys for spring training. It’s understood he’ll never get on the bus to make a trip. Sounds like a pretty good gig, doesn’t it? He’s essentially doing the old football trick of holding out during training camp, but in this case no one cares. Of course, the reason they don’t is that Rivera still gets the job done. On Sunday, he swiftly struck out the side, and I guess that will be all we see of him until he deems it necessary to pitch again.
It must be nice being Rivera and he certainly has a cushy gig down in Tampa, but he wouldn’t be afforded such status if he wasn’t about the most reliable closer anyone has ever seen. I wonder if there is a more underrated player in the Major Leagues? Rivera certainly gets a lot of credit, but you think about the stability he’s brought to the closer’s role in New York for this decade and you have to marvel at it a little bit. The guy is so good he’s taken for granted. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how important closers are to a club. I’m sure the metric guys would have some stats for me, but no matter their level of importance, there is always a spotlight on what they are doing in the final inning. Rivera is as comfortable in this spot as anyone. Look around the league at the uncertain closer positions, the guys who fans hope will get the job done, and you realize it must be nice to have Mo at the back end of the ‘pen.
Here in Philly we find out today that Brad Lidge is battling through some soreness in his bicep. Is this Chase Utley soreness, or actually just soreness? Lidge has been hit and miss this spring, looking comfortable throwing his slider, but not much else. And, he’s not exactly lighting up the radar gun. Lidge is a guy who has been good, has been awful and at the end of the day, you really don’t know what you’re getting. That’s the story for probably more than half the closers in the league. By year’s end the Phillies could have Ryan Madson out there, they could be scrambling for bullpen help, there’s no way to be entirely sure. And, I think the Yankees might be the only team that genuinely is sure about what they are doing with the closer and comfortable with it as well.
Quiz of the Day: Grab Bag. Category: Random Trivia. My Score: 24/26, w/one spell check.
This has been everywhere, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s a re-cut Ferris Bueller’s Day Off trailer if the movie was an indie teen flick instead of a mainstream comedy. I thought it was pretty good.