It seems like every year in August Mariano Rivera is unavailable for a few games due to some ailment or another. In the past it’s been little things, like a tight forearm or back spasms — one year, I remember, Mo hurt his back while sneezing. It sounds strange for a guy who keeps himself in such impeccable physical shape, but those seem to be the only bumps Mo hits for the season. Considering the injury rates of other closers, the Yanks should consider it a blessing.
We learned yesterday that Mo was unavailable due to a sore shoulder. “He was feeling a little cranky today,” said Girardi, though there was no indication of whether this related to Mo’s shoulder or his mood. We did see Mo snap at someone while warming up in the bullpen on Saturday, after Jeter’s home run, so who knows. Maybe Mo is actually cranky. Still, the more important part is the shoulder soreness.
This year’s malady is understandable. Not only did Mo not really have one last year, but he underwent off-season shoulder surgery. While he’s bounced back nicely this season, it’s natural for the shoulder to weaken a bit. It’s like pitchers who undergo Tommy John surgery having a dead arm period the year they come back. Combine the effects of off-season surgery with Mo’s propensity for minor spats later in the season, and it’s inevitable that he misses some time.
Even so, Girardi thinks Mo will be set to go if the Yanks have a lead to protect in Seattle tomorrow. All considered, perhaps the Yanks offense should rally behind their closer and give Mo a few more games off via a couple of blowouts. He saves them, so maybe it’s time for them to save him.