It was a real throwback at Yankees camp on Friday morning in Tampa, Fla.
Mariano Rivera followed Andy Pettitte to the Steinbrenner Field mound for live batting practice, watched by a guest catching instructor who knows the veterans as well as anyone: Jorge Posada.
Rivera faced right-handed-hitting Rob Segedin and left-handed-hitting Kyle Roller in the 20-pitch session, the first time the 43-year-old closer has faced hitters of any kind since April 30 of last season.
Rivera’s 2012 season ended May 3 when he tore his right ACL while shagging fly balls during batting practice in Kansas City.
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“It’s just BP, but it feels good to be on the mound and see some guys in there,” Rivera said. “It helps me to see how the ball’s moving, the location, how they’re swinging at the ball.”
And for that reason, when Segedin stepped in, Rivera barked, with a humorous tone, “You better swing!”
Segedin watched the first two pitches — Rivera loudly called both as strikes — before lining the third pitch into center.
Pettitte, standing on the top step of the dugout, jokingly told Segedin: “There you go. Shut him up.”
Joe Girardi, watching along with Posada and pitching coach Larry Rothschild, said he saw “no difference” in the way Rivera threw Friday compared with last season. Or the season before. Or the season before.
“He looked great,” Girardi said. “Looked like you expect him to look like, which is a good thing. He’s throwing it where he wants to. Looked normal to me. He might tell you it feels 95 percent, but I don’t see anything different to me.”
Said Posada: “Happy to see Mo the way he was throwing. The cutter’s still cutting.”
Rivera figures he’ll need “one or two more” BP sessions before being ready to appear in a game. Girardi said that isn’t likely to occur until the second week of games at the earliest.
Mike Carp is eager for a new start with his new team. Playing left field for Seattle on opening night last year, Carp was injured trying to make a diving catch. After being acquired by Boston on Wednesday, his mood — and his uniform — had changed dramatically. “When you think about the tradition, everything that goes on, it’s one of baseball’s premier teams,” he said. “Just excited to be a part of it. Look forward to the opportunity that I get here.” … Angels manager Mike Scioscia said first baseman Albert Pujols, who had minor right knee surgery after last season, probably won’t play in exhibition games until mid-March. … Former Dodgers first baseman Steve Garvey says he is battling prostate cancer. Garvey, 64, said he had his prostate removed at the UCLA Medical Center on Oct. 22 and that his most recent blood test indicated he was cancer-free. … Giants pitcher Barry Zito is tentatively scheduled to start the home opener against the Cardinals, manager Bruce Bochy said Friday. … Johan Santana’s first spring training appearance of the year for the Mets has been pushed back until mid-March. The left-hander needs more time to build up strength. … Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez says tests for performance-enhancing drugs he was given by Major League Baseball have come back negative. Gonzalez and several other players were listed in a Miami New Times report as receiving performance-enhancing drugs in purported records of a now-closed anti-aging clinic.