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Yankees star closer Rivera tears knee ligament

KANSAS CITY, Missouri -- New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was pondering a sudden end to his stellar career after tearing a knee ligament during pre-game batting practice on Thursday.

The 42-year-old's leg was fielding balls during practice to warm up when his foot got caught on the field where the grass meets the dirt, causing his knee to buckle. Rivera fell into the outfield wall and down on the ground, where he grimaced in pain while teammates and training staff ran out to see him.

Rivera was carted from the field and taken for a scan, and Royals head physician Dr. Vincent Key diagnosed a torn anterior cruciate ligament after looking at the results. If so, that would likely end Rivera's season, and he had yet to commit to playing on beyond 2012.

“I thought it wasn't that bad, but it's torn,” Rivera said after the game, pausing several times in the Yankees clubhouse to compose himself. “Have to fix it.”

Rivera, who holds the record for the most saves in major-league history, said that he never gave a thought to getting hurt while chasing balls during batting practice. It's something that he's done his entire career to keep in shape.

He also refused to say whether his career is over. The five-time World Series champion has said he'll make that decision after the season.

“At this point, I don't know,” Rivera said. “At this point, I don't know. Going to have to face this first. It all depends on how the rehab is going to happen, and from there, we'll see.”

Manager Joe Girardi also dismissed any notion that the 12-time All-Star could have prevented the injury, reasoning that Rivera's pregame routine helped to make him one of the game's stars.

“You've all seen Mo run around here for what, 40 years?” Girardi said. “You can fall off the curb or down stairs and get hurt.”

Third baseman Alex Rodriguez was watching from behind home plate when Rivera went down, and immediately said, “Oh, my God.” Rodriguez said later that the injury changed the entire tone of the clubhouse, and it didn't improve once the game got going as the Yankees lost 4-3 to the Kansas City Royals.

Kansas City closer Jonathon Broxton said after the game that it was “horrible news.”

“As many saves as he's been out there and as good an athlete as he is, I just hate for bad news. All I can do is wish him the best.”

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