TAMPA, Fla. -- The unmistakeable sound of a bat breaking against a baseball was heard again on the back field at The Boss this morning, which could only mean one thing: Mariano Rivera's cutter had checked into training camp.
The victim was Matt Diaz, who grounded weakly to second base and shook his hands in pain after getting the Mariano treatment in 40-degree weather. "How do you throw that thing?" he called out to the mound.
"I bust his hands," Rivera said with some degree of pleasure. "It's cold out there. It's OK."
OK for him, anyway. Mariano's second simulated game lasted 21 pitches and went about as well as these things can go. With pitching coach Larry Rothschild calling the strikes, Rivera caught rookie Francisco Arcia looking at a cutter, although Arcia did get a measure of revenge with a shot to the warning track that was ruled a double.
"Next time, maybe a (real) game," said Rivera, who is working his way back from ACL surgery. "But I got to wait for the boss. I just wait patiently. I'm waiting for 10 months, I can wait another few days. It will be exciting when I'm there, but I've been waiting for a long time, so no rush."