04/21/2013 1:14 PM ET
After missing most of '12, Rivera returns to form
By Chris Toman / Special to MLB.com
TORONTO -- After missing the majority of the 2012 season following season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right knee, 43-year-old Mariano Rivera has picked up right where he left off.
The Yankees closer is 5-for-5 in save opportunities and hasn't allowed a run since his first appearance of the season. Rivera was in top form for Saturday's extra-inning win against the Blue Jays, working around a leadoff double to close out the 11th inning by punching out two batters and recording the other out on a line drive.
Manager Joe Girardi said the only thing he wouldn't do with Rivera is pitch him three days in a row this early -- he has worked back-to-back games once -- but is otherwise not worried about the veteran's health.
"They have had a lot of success with knee operations and anterior cruciate ligament tears," Girardi said. "I don't really have any concerns about his knee; he passed all those tests in Spring Training."
That doesn't mean Girardi isn't impressed with what Rivera, the all-time saves leader with 613, is able to do in his 19th big league season.
"Am I a little bit surprised that he is still pitching at a high level at this age? Yeah, but not that he has come back," the skipper said.
Rivera only needs to make three appearances and pitch 2 1/3 more innings to match his workload from last season.
Girardi sits Youkilis, who's battling tight back
TORONTO -- Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was forced to leave Saturday's contest in the sixth inning with lower back tightness, was out of the starting lineup for Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Blue Jays.
The 34-year-old said he was able to play, but manager Joe Girardi is exercising caution with the veteran. Girardi said he intended to give Youkilis a day off during the three-game set in Toronto because of the turf at Rogers Centre.
New York plays Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg starting Monday, so upon the conclusion of the club's road trip, it will have played six consecutive games on turf.
"I just want to try to clear it up if we can," Girardi said. "It's good that he feels a lot better, that's a positive thing for us."
Girardi wasn't sure if he would consider using Youkilis as a pinch-hitter, but the third baseman said he'd be available, if needed.
In 16 games with the Yankees, Youkilis is batting .295 with two homers, nine RBIs and an .827 OPS.
With Youkilis sitting out, Jayson Nix was given the start at third base and is batting eighth.
Nix, a former Blue Jays player who appeared in 46 games for with the club in 2011, is batting .172 with a .495 OPS in his second season with the Yankees.
• First baseman Mark Teixeira continues to take dry swings with a light fungo bat as he works his way back from a partially torn sheath in his right wrist.
Teixeira, who made the trip to Toronto and will head with the club to St. Petersburg for the series against the Rays, has had no setbacks, Girardi said. But the skipper made sure to point out that Teixeira's rehab will be a slow process.
Chris Toman is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.