- Associated Press - Friday, May 4, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO. (AP) - Mariano Rivera sat on a chair in the corner of the visitor’s clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium, his right knee tightly wrapped Friday night and crutches resting against a nearby locker.

In one declarative statement, the Yankees’ closer put to rest any notion that he’d shuffle off into retirement after a devastating injury sustained the previous night in batting practice.

“I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this,” Rivera said.

The 12-time All-Star vowed he will return to the mound by 2013, despite hinting in spring training that this season may be his last. He said he reflected on the injury at his hotel room in the wee hours of Friday morning before making his decision.

“I love to play the game. To me, I don’t think going out like this is the right way,” Rivera said. “I don’t want to retire because I got hurt in the way that it happened. I don’t think like that. With the strength of the Lord, I just have to continue.”

Rivera tore his ACL and damaged his meniscus when his foot caught near the outfield wall before the series opener against Kansas City. An MRI taken during the game revealed the extent of the injury, and Rivera dabbed tears from his eyes when he spoke in the clubhouse Thursday night.

He wasn’t sure at the time whether he would return.

He was certain of it less than 24 hours later.

“Miracles happen,” Rivera said with a smile. “I’m a positive man. The only thing is that I feel sorry I let down my teammates. Besides that I’m OK.”

Rivera’s decision was merely the start of an encouraging night for New York. CC Sabathia pitched into the eighth inning and Derek Jeter belted a two-run homer in the seventh inning, helping the Yankees snap a three-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Royals.

“It’s always tough when you lose the greatest closer in the history of baseball,” Sabathia said. “That was the first time since I’ve been here that I didn’t have him out there.”

Rivera spoke with New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek, who performed surgery on his shoulder following the 2008 season, and was told that he should be ready to work out again in about five months. Rivera hopes that allows him to pitch by the start of spring training.

“You know, I just kind of had a feeling in talking to him last night that it wasn’t the way he wants to go out,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He still has to get through this rehab and we’ll see where he’s at, but Mo wants to do things on his own terms, and determine when he’s done, and I don’t think he wanted to be done because of an injury.”

Rivera remained with the team Friday night in Kansas City. He plans to return to New York this weekend before consulting with Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.

Rivera said he was touched by the outpouring of support he received after the injury _ even Miami Heat star LeBron James mentioned the “freak accident.” There was a bouquet of flowers in the empty locker that adjoined Rivera’s in the clubhouse, bringing a smile to his face.

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