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David Robertson has gotten chances to close in the past when Rivera hasn’t been available. The Yankees also have hard-throwing Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen.

Rivera began his major league career as a starter in 1995, soon became a setup man and quickly blossomed into a dominant closer. His emergence from the bullpen to the blaring strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was a fan favorite at the old Yankee Stadium, and the tradition carried over the team’s new ballpark.

Torre guided the Yankees to four championships with Rivera. Now managing Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Torre said Rivera’s accomplishments won’t be matched.

“First of all, I don’t think anybody would get enough of an opportunity in postseason to do what he did. It’s not that somebody may not be special up there. His career is one thing, but when you look at what he’s done in postseason, it’s amazing. It really is,” he said.

“He really was a security blanket for our ballclub. They never got tired of winning and he certainly was a big part of it,” he said. “He’s the greatest ever. It certainly isn’t a knock at the other guys. But first of all New York, where it’s the biggest fishbowl in the world, the postseason, where everybody gets a chance to go `let’s see how good you are’ and to scrutinize. And he responded, he responded. He was more than a closer. He was a regular player for us because of how much of a part of our victories he was.”

Rivera also is the only _ and last _ big leaguer who wears No. 42. The number was retired in 1997 in tribute to Jackie Robinson, although players who had the number at the time were allowed to keep it.

The numbers Rivera put up may never be duplicated, either.

“A lot of people over the years have asked, especially when I go back to Japan, `Who is the guy that you don’t want to face, or the toughest guy to face?’” Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki said through a translator. “He was probably the guy who would come up at the top of my list.”

“To have the success that he’s had, there’s been nobody who has had this much success and there will be nobody in the future that has this much success with one pitch,” he said. “Pitchers obviously try to throw to places that hitters will have a hard time hitting, placing the ball where a hitter doesn’t want to have it thrown. But Mariano would just throw to where you are waiting for the pitch and you still can’t hit it.”

Rivera was the MVP of the 1999 World Series and the MVP of the 2003 AL championship. Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he thought Rivera deserved a few more awards, too.

“I think he should have been named MVP a few times. He was the MVP of baseball a couple of times,” Leyland said.

“You talk about a closer, he made closing a whole different thing,” he said. “When the Yankees got to the ninth, they never, ever, thought they could lose with him on the mound.”

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AP Sports Writer Bob Baum and AP freelance writers Mark Didtler, Chuck King and Jeff Berlinicke contributed to this report.