TAMPA, Fla. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was all smiles after throwing 18 pitches Thursday in his first simulated game since knee surgery last spring.
“I feel good,” Rivera said. “I feel real good. Getting stronger and stronger.”
The 43-year old pitched one inning against Yankees’ minor leaguers. He also fielded and covered first base.
“That’s what I wanted to do, field some bunts, go after some balls in between first and the mound,” Rivera said.
Rivera pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.
Rivera is a 12-time All-Star with 608 saves in the regular season and 42 in the postseason.
“He’s throwing the ball right where he wants to, and to be able to that in February is amazing,” Yankees ace CC Sabathia said.
Sabathia, likely to start the season opener against Boston on April 1, threw 46 pitches over two innings during his initial simulated game. The left-hander had offseason left elbow bone spur surgery.
“No problems,” Sabathia said. “Feel good. Threw everything, so I’m excited. I felt better today just commanding the baseball. I’ll keep working, and hopefully get better each time out. I’m excited I don’t have that little pain in there anymore.”
Sabathia expects to have a bullpen session in a few days.
“I’m getting antsy to get into a game,” Sabathia said.