Mariano Rivera says he is not concerned about the triceps soreness that made him unavailable to pitch Monday night against the Cleveland Indians. The ageless Rivera might not be worried. Until they see the ageless closer standing 60-feet, 6 inches from home plate and breaking hitters' bats in half again, however, Yankees fans will be sweating this one.
The Yankees have already proven they can piece together a bullpen despite injuries to Rafael Soriano, Joba Chamberlain, Pedro Feliciano and Damaso Marte. They have proven they can piece together a starting rotation despite the retirement of Andy Pettitte and the rejection of Cliff Lee. They have proven they can win games with Derek Jeter on the disabled list and Eduardo Nunez at shortstop.
What this New York Yankees team cannot do is survive the loss of Mariano Rivera. Since he took over as closer in 1997 Yankee baseball has been about one thing. Get the baseball to Rivera with a lead. Then, all you have to do is shake hands and go home with another victory. Even at age 41 Rivera (1-1, 1.91 ERA, 21 saves in 25 opportunities) is as efficient as ever.
A recent report put the Yankees' interest in the very available New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez at the level of 'marginal.' It will stay that way is No. 42 shows he is good to go. You can bet that will change if Rivera is hiding an injury that is worse than he is letting on.