- Associated Press - Thursday, July 7, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was available to pitch Thursday night against Tampa Bay, though he is skipping the All-Star game next week because of soreness in his right triceps.

“I want to do what is right,” Rivera said. “I want to make sure that I’m 100 percent.”

Rivera hasn’t pitched since Sunday, when he blew a save in New York’s loss to the crosstown rival Mets. He said Thursday that he feels better and he went through his normal routine during batting practice. But he said the “big test” will be pitching in a game.

The 12-time All-Star, who also missed last year’s All-Star game because of injury, said he is about 90 or 95 percent. But he acknowledged he’s been receiving much more treatment than usual and he might need to manage the soreness in his pitching arm for the rest of the season.

Rivera said inflammation caused the soreness and he doesn’t think any tests are necessary.

“Today, it’s better. That’s good,” he said, adding that longtime Yankees trainer Gene Monahan has done a tremendous job and he trusts him.

Los Angeles Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden will replace Rivera on the AL All-Star squad Tuesday in Phoenix.

“Three days will be good to rest,” Rivera said. “I won’t be able to give what the team will ask me. This is for real. I don’t want to go out there and not have my 100 percent or my 95 percent.

“It’s never an easy decision, because you have to be proud. I’m proud. But at the same time, you have to be wise,” he added. “You have to be there for the second half of the year.”

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