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“He’s special,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Friday night in Boston. “Hopefully he’ll come back, even though he’s with the bad guys.”

Royals manager Ned Yost called Rivera “one of a kind,” while Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon referred to him as the “godfather” of their role.

“It’s just kind of tough to put into words,” Papelbon said. “It’s just tough to see your leader, your idol _ it’s hard to even comprehend it or talk about it.”

Longtime Yankees manager Joe Torre called the injury unfortunate.

“Even though he has a tall mountain to climb I think he still has a lot of fight left in him,” said Torre, now the MLB’s vice president for operations. “It’s a testament to Mariano’s work ethic that he was injured while preparing for a game as he has done his entire career.”

Rivera had lunch with Alex Rodriguez on Friday and spoke with Derek Jeter in front of the captain’s locker when they arrived at the ballpark. He planned to address the rest of the team before Friday night’s game against the Royals.

“We need him around and we need his presence and his leadership,” A-Rod said. “He promised me that he’s going to be around as much as possible and I’m going to hold him up to that.”

Jeter simply shrugged when he was asked about Rivera making a comeback, pointing out that he knew all along that his close friend of some 20 years would never be forced into retirement.

“Regardless of when he decides to retire or slow down, I think we’re going to remember him for everything that he’s done,” Jeter said. “People aren’t going to remember him for this. It’s an unfortunate incident. Whenever he decides to do it, it’s going to be the same story.”

Girardi said that David Robertson and Rafael Soriano will close games the remainder of the season, though he seemed to indicate Robertson will get the first shot.

The 27-year-old Robertson emerged as a dependable setup man for Rivera, tossing 11 scoreless innings to start the season. He’s coming off a breakout year in which he appeared in 70 games with a 1.08 ERA, earning his first All-Star selection in the process.

“Very confident in Robby,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “He’s been so good for us in the eighth-inning role. He’s got great stuff. He’s got confidence. He’s got the support from us and we hope to hand him a lot of leads.”

The Yankees officially placed Rivera on the disabled list prior to the game, giving them 10 players on the DL _ one fewer than the rival Red Sox.

In a flurry of roster moves, right-hander Michael Pineda was transferred to the 60-day DL, and outfielder Dewayne Wise and right-hander Cody Eppley were brought up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Right-handed reliever D.J. Mitchell was optioned to Triple-A.

It’s the first time that Rivera has been on the disabled list since 2003, when he missed time with a groin injury. But the sting of the move was lessened by Rivera’s declaration that he would resume his sterling career once his knee has been repaired.

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