On the same day that he announced he would retire at the end of the season, Mariano Rivera made his spring debut. Derek Jeter did as well. Both looked like their old selves.
For the first time this spring, the New York Yankees got to see Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera play in a live game. Both players, who are coming off significant injuries, made their spring debuts today. Earlier, we said that Jeter and Andy Pettitte would be making their returns soon, we just didn't know how soon it would be for Jeter. Now, the club is just waiting on Pettitte to be ready.
The Yankees hosted the Atlanta Braves in Tampa this afternoon. They didn't win the game, but no one cared about the score anyway. Just about every eye in the park was fixed on Jeter when he stepped into the box to lead off the bottom of the first. Jeter got two at-bats in and finished 1-for-2 with a single. Jeter got the start as the Yankees' designated hitter, so he will still have to prove himself in the field. But he looked just fine at the plate.
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Rivera got into the game in the fifth inning. He pitched one full inning, didn't allow a hit, didn't allow a walk, and struck out two batters. Vintage Rivera. He will likely get into games early in spring until teams start letting their starters stretch it out a bit.
Rivera suffered a torn ACL while shagging fly balls before a game in Kansas City last summer. The injury proved to be season-ending and was close to career-ending. However, Rivera chose to come back this season, and he has since announced it will be his last. Jeter broke his ankle during the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. The injury all but killed the Yankees' hopes as the Tigers marched on to the World Series. After surgery and rehab, Jeter is still easing himself into the action.
Both players will get more playing time as spring training progresses, but there is still about three weeks left before the regular season. There's no reason to rush anything.