Yankees closer Rivera has blood clot in calf

Mariano Rivera has a blood clot in his right calf, the latest

health problem for the longtime New York Yankees closer who tore a

knee ligament last week while shagging fly balls during batting

practice.

Rivera is on blood-thinning medication intended to dissolve the

clot and said Wednesday he is OK, though he was scared when he

received the diagnosis. He needs to spend at least a week or two

strengthening his knee before he has surgery to repair his torn

anterior cruciate ligament – but he said that would have been the

case regardless of the blood clot.

Strengthening the knee now will put him in a better position

when he begins his rehabilitation program after the operation. He

must stop taking the blood thinners 24 hours before the surgery, he

said.

The 42-year-old Rivera, baseball’s career saves leader with 608,

said he can guarantee he will work hard and do ”whatever it

takes” to return next season. But if his leg doesn’t come back

strong enough, then he will take it as a sign that it’s time to

retire.

”If it’s my call, I don’t want to leave the game the way it

happened. … My will and my desire is to stay,” Rivera said,

adding that he was leaning toward pitching in 2013 even before the

injury. ”The traveling, I hate it. And the game, I love it.”

Rivera was injured last Thursday in Kansas City, tearing his ACL

and damaging the meniscus in his right knee, when he stumbled and

fell while chasing a fly ball during batting practice, a regular

part of his pregame routine. He is expected to miss the rest of the

season.

The following day he announced he was determined to get back on

the mound next season and he was examined Monday by three doctors

at two hospitals as he prepared to decide where to have knee

surgery.

While he was being examined, Rivera mentioned to the doctor that

his right calf was ”sore and painful.” He was diagnosed with a

blood clot and spent Monday night in the hospital, beginning

treatment right away.

That was the complication Yankees general manager Brian Cashman

and Rivera’s agent, Fernando Cuza, referred to this week when

discussing Rivera’s schedule and prognosis. Cashman would not

elaborate Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.

”I was more concerned with the blood clot than the knee. For a

minute I was like, what else is going to happen?” Rivera said. ”I

was scared because I never hear good things about blood clots. …

I take it like, OK, what do we have to do?”

In the worst cases, blood clots can be life-threatening if they

travel to the lungs. Rivera said he’s not sure what caused the

clot, and he didn’t even ask.

”I know that I’ve got to deal with it,” he said. ”They don’t

know if it happened before or after the trauma of the injury.”

Rivera said he planned to speak to his doctor later Wednesday

and he will soon go back for a check-up. He hasn’t decided on a

doctor to perform the knee surgery yet, but the clot will not

affect the date of the operation.

”I really believe if Mo wants to continue to play, he’ll

play,” manager Joe Girardi said. ”I mean, obviously he’s got to

go through a process of rehab here, but I don’t see any reason why

that’s not going to happen and he’s not going to get through that,

so I look forward to seeing him back in a Yankee uniform.”

Rivera appeared in good spirits at a 25-minute news conference

Wednesday before the Yankees played the Tampa Bay Rays. Wearing a

long-sleeve shirt and jeans, he hobbled up to the podium on a set

of crutches he’s already grown tired of.

”I just feel old. Walking with these crutches is not fun at

all,” he said.

Later, he joked that would begin running again in 5 or 10

minutes.

Rivera said he’ll be at the ballpark as much as possible to help

his teammates however he can this season, but for the first time in

his life he thinks he needs to be a bit ”selfish” and focus on

his rehab. He said he watched nervously from his couch at home as

fill-in closer David Robertson loaded the bases Tuesday night

before saving New York’s 5-3 victory over the Rays.

”It’s still tough, though, mentally. These games don’t help me.

He did a good job,” Rivera said. ”I was sweating and screaming.

It was difficult, but I was screaming at Robby on the TV.”

And when he returns, Rivera said he’ll resume shagging flies

during batting practice.

”Oh, no doubt about it,” he said. ”I don’t know what the

Yankees will do. They might need to tie me up,” he said.