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Sunday, June 23, 2013
Mariano Rivera: I'd rather close ASG

By Mike Mazzeo
Special to ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- If he had it his way, Mariano Rivera would prefer to close his final All-Star Game, not start it.

The New York Yankees closer, who has said he will retire at the end of the season, is aware of the possibility that he could be chosen by American League All-Star manager Jim Leyland to start the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field.

Williams The reason why I say that is it's not what I do. What I do is close the games, I don't start the games. It's a privilege and honor, but I'm not contemplating it.

-- Mariano Rivera

There is certainly plenty of buzz on social media about it, with some fan groups campaigning for it to happen.

But Rivera, who has compiled an MLB-record 634 saves during the regular season and 42 during the postseason, would rather have a chance to notch his fifth career All-Star save than make his first start.

"I've been told about it, but I don't like it," Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com prior to Sunday's Old Timers' Day festivities at Yankee Stadium. "And the reason why I say that is it's not what I do. What I do is close the games, I don't start the games. It's a privilege and honor, but I'm not contemplating it."

Detroit's Max Scherzer, the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1997 to get off to an 11-0 start, is the likely candidate to start the game.

"I think the right thing is to do it the way it (normally) is," Rivera said. "I don't want to start the game and give up 10 runs in the first inning. I'd rather pitch in the ninth than the first."

Rivera, 43, is currently tied for the MLB lead in saves (26) with Baltimore's Jim Johnson and Pittsburgh's Jason Grilli. Rivera has blown just one save opportunity this season and has a 1.61 ERA.

Sunday presumably will mark Rivera's final Old Timers' Day as an active player. He said he doesn't know if he'll pitch in next year's game.

"I look forward to this day every year," Rivera said. "Even last year I was hurt and I was here. I just want to make sure that I see my guys and make sure they're OK and that everything is going well.

"I make sure that I say hello obviously because you never know what can happen. I like to be there to just chitchat with the guys that I played with, the ones that I saw playing and just have a good time with them."