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Rivera's historic career to end after '13 season

TAMPA, Florida -- New York Yankees closing relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader with 608, said Saturday that he will retire after the 2013 season.

The 43-year-old Panamanian right-hander made the announcement at the Yankees' preseason practice facility, saying he would have called it quits last year had he not suffered a season-ending right knee injury last May.

“Now is the time,” Rivera said. “The little gas that I have left is for this year. There's nothing left. I did everything and I'm proud. I will never stop missing the game or the action on the field and my teammates.”

Rivera insisted his retirement decision would be final, saying there was no chance of him emulating the on-off retirement saga of Yankee teammate Andy Pettitte. “Andy, what's wrong with you?” Rivera joked.

“I have just a few bullets left and I know, after this year, you won't see me on the field playing baseball. I did what I love. I did it with passion. But after this year I know I won't do it for the wrong reason.

“I just want to stay home and close the door and do what is next.”

Rivera, a 12-time All-Star, had made at least 28 saves in 15 consecutive seasons until last year, when he played in only nine games and went 1-1 with only five saves due to the injury.

Making his first appearance since the injury, Rivera threw the fifth inning of a preseason game against Atlanta, striking out two Braves batters and needing only 15 pitches to retire the side without allowing a base runner.

“Everything went well,” Rivera said. “I felt real good, pushing off the leg. I wasn't holding anything (back) ... I'm happy with the results.

“Being in this position, it's wonderful. I can't ask for more than that.”

Rivera helped the Yankees win five World Series titles with 42 saves and a 0.70 earned-run average in 141 innings over 96 playoff games, including a record scoreless streak of 33 1/3 innings.

He was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1999 World Series and the 2003 American League championship series.

“If it wasn't for my teammates, I would never have had the opportunity,” Rivera said. “The legacy that I want to leave is that I was there for others.”

Rivera said he wanted to work in baseball, hoping to help develop young pitching talent. He said that a final decision about retirement came before he came to training camp and he told only a few teammates and club executives.

“It's not too easy when you come to a decision like this,” Rivera said.

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New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera delivers against the Atlanta Braves during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, Saturday, March 9. Rivera, who pitched a scoreless inning, announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2013 season on Saturday. (AP)

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