Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says 2013 will be his last

U.S. Sports Desk, Mar 9 (EFE).- New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, widely considered the greatest relief pitcher of all time, said Saturday that he will call it a career at the end of the 2013 season.

The 43-year-old Panamanian, who holds the record for most saves in Major League Baseball history with 608 and has a lifetime earned run average of 2.21, made the announcement at the Yankees' spring-training home in Tampa, Florida.

"It is not too easy to come to a decision like this," Rivera said in the company of his wife, Clara, and their two children. "Retiring from the game I love. I did what I loved. I did it with passion. It has been an honor to wear the pinstripe uniform."

Rivera said his decision had nothing to do with the serious knee injury that he suffered last May and which forced him to miss most of the 2012 season.

When asked how he would like to finish his career, Rivera responded: "The last game, I hope, will be throwing the last pitch of the World Series."

Although considered by many to be the greatest relief pitcher of all time, he shied away from such a label.

"I don't feel I'm the greatest of all time," Rivera said. "I want to be remembered as a player who was there for others, made others better."

The 12-time All Star also holds the all-time record for postseason saves with 42, far outdistancing second-place pitcher Brad Lidge, who has 18.

Many of the Panamanian's accomplishments are the product of pitching his entire career with the Yankees, the wealthiest and most successful team since he came into the league in 1995.

But Rivera also boasts achievements that were not dependent on the Yankees' powerful lineup of sluggers.

He has allowed just .998 walks and hits per inning pitched for his career, the second-best mark since 1900. His overall postseason earned-run average and WHIP also are the lowest in baseball history.

Rivera, who has won five World Series rings as a member of the New York Yankees, is expected to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible for Cooperstown five years after retirement.