It's been nearly nine months since Mariano Rivera tore his ACL shagging fly balls during practice in Kansas City and, if his injured right knee is as up to snuff as his attitude, fans need not worry about seeing No. 42 shattering bats again this season.
Wearing a "small, light brace" over the knee, the future Hall of Famer showed off for reporters by throwing 25 bullpen pitches, fielding ground balls (made of sponge) and covering first base.
"It was wonderful to be out there," Rivera said. "I wasn't thinking about my knee. I was having fun, doing my job."
Asked to rate his performance on a scale of one to 10 on his first day on the diamond, since coming back from surgery, Rivera smiled.
"I feel good. I would say around nine for sure," he said. "The other point, the 10 [will come] from the running I do here, the ground balls and covering first base. I will be a 10 when I pitch."
Rivera revealed he might wear the brace during the season.
He also admitted he won't stop shagging fly balls in batting practice because that's part of his program to be ready.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to be myself again," he said.
Manager Joe Girardi said he would allow Rivera to continue with his pre-game ritual of chasing fly balls before games because, "That's part of who he is, what's made him great."
Rivera indicated that if he can't become the Mo of old, he would walk away from the game. But, at the same time, would not reveal what his plans are if 2013 is a success — even though he said that he has already made up his mind.
"I won't give it up until I am ready," the 43-year-old Rivera said about his decision. " I will tell you guys when the moment is right."
The all-time saves leader (608) made a vow to return the day after last May's injury. So far, so good. Enjoy it while you can because it might be his last season in pinstripes. Only Mo knows for sure.