- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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There are no certainties in life, but Joe Girardi says he's "99.9%" sure that Mariano Rivera will not return this season.
"Nothing's ever 100%, but I would say it's 99%, 99.9% (that he's not coming back)," Girardi said before first pitch on Sunday.
Girardi then added, rather morbidly, that "we will die though, I can tell you that for sure."
Jeez, thanks for the reminder, Joe.
Rivera, who has been shelved since tearing his ACL on May 3, told the stadium scoreboard interviewer on the field before Sunday's game that he wants "to come back as soon as possible, but I wanna be smart."
The Yankees have stated publicly several times that they don't expect Rivera to return this season.
Girardi has said in the past that Rivera would need a spring training-like period, which for him generally means six to eight innings of pitching spread over a three-week period, before he could return to the majors.
That means Rivera would have to be fully recovered and ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment by the first week of September to have any hope of getting into a regular-season game before the playoffs begin in the first week of October.
A-ROD THROWS PIGSKIN AGAIN: For the second straight day, Alex Rodriguez threw a football around during batting practice. Rodriguez made several 40-yard tosses to a Yankees coach in foul ground during Mariners' BP.
Girardi has said the drills are a part of Rodriguez's conditioning during rehab. The third baseman played quarterback in high school and was seen throwing a decent spiral on Sunday morning.
Girardi offered no medical update on Rodriguez, who suffered a broken left hand late last month.
"He's working hard and he's doing fine," Girardi said of Rodriguez. The Yankees expect A-Rod to return in September.
Girardi also reiterated that injured outfielder Brett Gardner could be used in a pinch-hitter/defensive replacement role once rosters expand in September.
"With an expended roster, we'll defeintely use him, if it doesn't jeopardize him getting back next year," Girardi said.
That's assuming, of course, that the inflamed tissue in Gardner's right elbow has healed.
The speedy left fielder underwent surgery late last month to repair the injury, which has kept him sidelined since mid April.
THE LINEUP: Why is Curtis Granderson hitting leadoff? Girardi said he's trying to split up the left-handed hitters in his lineup. Derek Jeter, a righty, follows Granderson in the lineup on Sunday.
Girardi said Ichiro Suzuki hasn't been a consideration to leadoff because his on-base percentage is low this season (.287 entering Sunday).
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