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Mariano Rivera to start throwing

DANBURY, Conn. -- Still not fully recovered from his season-ending knee injury, New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said he will alter his winter throwing program to compensate for all the time he missed in 2012.

"It is not 100 percent," Rivera said Saturday. "I would say it is 95 percent, but, by the time spring training finishes, it will be 100 percent."

Rivera, 43, expects to begin his throwing program next week, which is sooner than normal. Rivera last pitched on a major league mound on April 30, 2012 against Baltimore.

A few days later in Kansas City, Rivera crumbled to the ground while shagging fly balls before the game. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He pitched a total of 8 1/3 innings in 2012.

"It needs more strengthening," Rivera said. "The 5 percent will come quick."

Rivera took part in a clinic and autograph session at the Frozen Ropes baseball facility. Toward the end of the program, the children asked Rivera questions. One inquired if this would be Rivera's final season.

"There is media here," Rivera said, drawing some laughs. "I don't know. I have another contract for this year. I don't know what is going to happen next year."

Rivera agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract plus incentives earlier this winter. In 2012, he made $15 million.

Danbury is located near Newtown, where 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. At Saturday's event, there were some Newtown boys who took part.

"We wanted to make sure they felt comfortable and not try to treat them differently," Rivera said. "I thought that was for the best."