New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera wants to pitch for as long as he can

Day 1: Jorge Posada takes reps from a pitching machine on the day Yankees pitches and catchers reported.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Day 1: Jorge Posada takes reps from a pitching machine on the day Yankees pitches and catchers reported.

TAMPA — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said he doesn't know when the time will come that he'll walk away from the game he loves.

But he said as long as he's healthy and can perform at a high level, he plans to pitch. Rivera, 40, said he feels strong going into his 16th season and is not worried about it being the final year of his contract.

Like SS Derek Jeter, Rivera likely will have to wait until the end of the year to begin negotiations on a new one.

"I have a contract this year," Rivera said Thursday, when pitchers and catchers reported. "That's all I need to know. The rest is not in my control."

MISCELLANY: Manager Joe Girardi said LHP CC Sabathia, set to throw a bullpen session Saturday, is lined up to start the first spring training game, March 3, as well as opening day. … Girardi said if Jorge Posada could catch between 100-120 games, that would be "great." … Former Ray Randy Winn "could be anything from a fourth outfielder to a starting outfielder," Girardi said.

Phillies: Hamels wants to focus mentally

CLEARWATER — After being named 2008 World Series MVP, LHP Cole Hamels expected a big 2009. Instead, he went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA.

"He pitched with a lot of anger; with himself mostly," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "He's such a perfectionist. You don't pitch with anger. And he wasn't nearly as focused as he was the two previous years."

Hamels, 26, who signed a three-year, $20.5 million deal after 2008, blamed his sulking on putting too much pressure on himself.

"Any time you have success, there's more expectations," he said. "You sign a contract, and you want to be able to go out there and give the fans everything and a little bit more. I understand I'm only human, and I'm only as good as I allow myself to be. I can't really expect to be even better. You have to let the game play out.

"You have one pitch at a time. You have one hitter. You have to make it a little more simple."

Early arrival: Placido Polanco, back after four seasons in Detroit, has reported and is taking grounders to prepare for a shift from second to third.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

FAST FACTS

Yankees

First full-squad workout: Wednesday

Where: George Steinbrenner Field, 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa

Phillies

First full-squad workout: Tuesday

Where: Carpenter Complex and Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater

Blue Jays

Pitchers/catchers: Report Monday

First full-squad workout: Feb. 26

Where: Englebert Complex, 1700 Solon Ave., Dunedin

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera wants to pitch for as long as he can 02/18/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 19, 2010 7:22am]

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