Rivera's surgery slated for Tuesday
Veteran closer looks to begin Spring Training on time
NEW YORK -- Yankees closer Mariano Rivera will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his sore right shoulder on Tuesday, the team has announced. The procedure will be performed by Dr. David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
Through manager Joe Girardi, Rivera announced his decision to have the surgical procedure performed on Monday, as the club cleaned out its Yankee Stadium lockers for the final time.
Despite compiling one of the best individual seasons of his career, Rivera revealed late in September that he had pitched nearly the entire season in pain. Tests revealed inflammation and calcification on top of the AC joint in the 38-year-old reliever's right shoulder.
"You learn how to deal with it," Rivera said. "Obviously, there are days that you won't pitch because it hurts, because it's cranky, but I'm here to pitch. I don't come here to sit down and just see what happens."
The procedure is considered relatively minor and Rivera is expected to be ready for Spring Training, though he will likely assume his usual light workload -- skipping all road Grapefruit League games -- heading into the regular season.
"I think this is what Mo feels most comfortable with," Girardi said on Monday. "Fortunately for us, it's not something like when you hear shoulder, you hear rotator cuff or labrum. It's not that. It's a little calcium deposit that they just shave down."
Rivera addressed reporters during the Yankees' final series of the season at Boston's Fenway Park and said he had been told that surgery was one of two options that could correct the irritation and pain.
He could also have alleviated the soreness with a series of periodic cortisone injections, but said, "I hate needles," and did not have any injections performed during the 2008 season. He has not had any kind of surgical procedure since a '92 elbow operation.
Despite pitching with some level of discomfort most of the season, Rivera assembled one of his best statistical seasons, converting 39 of 40 save opportunities to go 6-5 with a team-leading 1.40 ERA, pitching in a team-high 64 games overall.
"It's something called God," Rivera said. "That's my strength. Talk to him."
His final appearance came in the first game of New York's day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park on Sunday, as Rivera recorded the final four outs to preserve Mike Mussina's 20th victory.
Earlier this season, Rivera -- who is signed through '10 -- surpassed Lee Smith for second place on baseball's all-time saves list with 482 in the regular season, plus 34 more in his playoff career.
"I'm a guy that always wants to be responsible for his acts, and pitching is what I do," Rivera said. "I want to be able to do what I'm doing the next two years."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.