NEW YORK — The great Mariano Rivera is getting set to close his career.
The New York Yankees’ reliever plans to announce this weekend that he will retire after the 2013 season, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday.
The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because there was no announcement. A news conference was called for Saturday at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Fla.
The 43-year-old closer is baseball’s saves leader with 608. He is regarded as one of the best clutch pitchers in history, posting a record 42 postseason saves with an 0.70 ERA while helping the Yankees win five World Series championships.
Rivera missed most of last season after he tore a ligament in his right knee while catching fly balls during batting practice. The right-hander was hurt May 3 and had surgery the next month.
Rivera returned home to Panama this week for a personal matter, and was expected to rejoin the team Saturday. There was a good chance Rivera would pitch in an exhibition game for the first time this spring later that day.
The 12-time All-Star typically goes at his own pace in camp, fine-tuning his dreaded cut fastball in the bullpen and in simulated games.
Minus Rivera, the Yankees still won the AL East last year with Rafael Soriano moving into the closer’s role. Soriano left after the season as a free agent and signed with Washington.
David Robertson has gotten chances to close in the past when Rivera hasn’t been available. The Yankees also have hard-throwing Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen.
Rivera began his major league career as a starter in 1995, soon became a setup man and quickly blossomed into a dominant closer.
His emergence from the bullpen to the blaring strains of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was a fan favorite at the old Yankee Stadium, and the tradition carried over the team’s new ballpark.
Rivera also is the only — and last — big leaguer who wears No. 42. The number was retired in 1997 in tribute to Jackie Robinson, although players who had the number at the time were allowed to keep it.
FURCAL TO HAVE ELBOW SURGERY: In Jupiter, Fla., St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal will have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow next week.
The team did not say in its statement Thursday how long the three-time All-Star will be out. Dr. James Andrews, the noted orthopedist, examined Furcal on Wednesday and will perform the procedure.
The 35-year-old Furcal injured the elbow late last season. On March 3, the team told the three-time All-Star to stop baseball activity after a major setback in his rehabilitation from a torn ligament.
“It’s very disappointing,” Furcal said. “I worked so hard in the offseason to get everything straight, working hard with the doctors, the training team, we did anything we could do to get ready for spring training, ready for the season.”
Manager Mike Matheny said the team hoped Furcal returns as quickly as possible. General manager John Mozeliak said the Cardinals had confidence in Pete Kozma and Ronny Cedeno at shortstop.
“The way we look at it right now it is certainly going to be a competition between Kozma and Cedeno, but there’s no doubt that given what Kozma did for us in the last six weeks of the season last year that we so have a high level on confidence that he can continue to do that,” Mozeliak said.
SALE GETS NEW CONTRACT: In Glendale, Ariz., the Chicago White Sox have agreed on a five-year, $32.5 million contract with left-handed starter Chris Sale.
The 23-year-old went 17-8 with a 3.05 EA and 192 strikeouts in his first season a starter. He was on the American League All-Star team and finished sixth in the Cy Young voting.
Sale will receive $850,000 in 2013, $3.5 million in 2014, $6.0 million in 2015, $9.15 million in 2016 and $12 million in 2017. The team holds options for 2018 ($12.5) and 2019 ($13.5). There is $1 million buyout on both team options.
MELVIN STUNG BY SCORPION: In Phoenix, Milwaukee Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin is back at spring training after a scorpion sting landed him in the hospital.
Melvin said he thought he saw a bug scurrying across the floor of his condominium Wednesday night and bent down to pick it up with a tissue. It turned out to be a scorpion and he got stung.
Melvin said Thursday that he spent three hours at a hospital. He said he suffered a “little tingling and shock and discomfort” in his left arm, but now describes it as no big deal.
BRANTLEY, 10 OTHERS GET 1-YEAR DEALS: In Goodyear, Ariz., Indians outfielder Michael Brantley is among 11 players to sign one-year contracts with Cleveland.
Brantley will start in left field following the team’s
signing of free agent center fielder Michael Bourn.
He resumed workouts Thursday after he was spiked last week during an exhibition game and needed 15 stitches. Manager Terry Francona said Brantley could be playing in games by this weekend.
The Indians also signed starting third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, right-handers Cody Allen, Trey Haley, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Bryan Shaw, outfielder Tim Fedroff, left-hander T.J. House and infielder Chris McGuiness.
All the signed players have less than three years of major league experience and are not eligible for salary arbitration.