Jays RPs have audience with Great Mariano
* RPs Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil sat in the bullpen listening and asking Mariano Rivera questions. .... Canadians drafted in the top 200 Top Canucks drafted year by year Canuck$ with si$-figue bonu$
By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ Mariano Rivera arrived in the bullpen in the seventh inning Tuesday night.
And there he sat alone watching and waiting for the 84th All-Star game to unfold at Citi Field.
“No one was going over to talk to him,” said Blue Jays reliever Steve Delabar, who took a deep breath and decided to seize the Mo-ment.
“Guys didn’t want to interfere, so I went over and broke the ice.”
One locker over Brett Cecil interjected “well, I was going to go over if you hadn’t.”
Cecil has just returned from cooling off from warming up as Grant Balfour worked the sixth inning.
Delabar and Cecil, who have a combined one save (Delabar’s came July 10 against the Cleveland Indians) along with the other AL reliever Glenn Perkins (39 saves) had an audience with the Great Mariano (638 career saves.
“I asked him if he had any good bullpen games,” Delabar said.)
“During the fog delay at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, it wasn’t raining,” said Cecil. “We stayed in the bullpen and played bocce ball.”
Cecil re-told a Rivera story how when it was a reliever’s birthday in the Yankees bullpen. Whose ever birthday it was, would put on his jacket and stand still after the anthems ... as other relievers soaked the birthday boy with Gatorade, Red Bull, soda and condiments brought from inside the clubhouse.
And then the birthday boy had to stay in his soaked uniform for the rest of the game and pitch in the sticky uniform -- if needed.
Delabar asked Rivera about current Yankee reliever Shawn Kelley, Delabar’s teammate with the Seattle Mariners in 2012.
Usually, when a pitcher is removed from the game he heads to the trainer’s room to ice his arm.
Delabar struck out Buster Posey on a 2-2 pitch, swinging at a slider to end the seventh ... and?
“Didn’t leave the dugout,” Delabar said.
The game started as a New York Mets night: Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver threw out the first pitch, Mets ace Matt Harvey started for the NL, pitching two scoreless, despite allowing a lead-off double to Mike Trout and hitting New York Yankee second baseman Robinson Cano, booed from the time he stepped into the on-deck circle.
As soon as Neil Diamond finished singing Sweet Caroline, the Mets-Yankees rivalry was placed on the back shelf. Rivera was given a standing ovation by Mets, Yankees, ball fans alike from the record crowd of before a record crowd of 45,186 at Citi Field and both dugouts as he came on to his theme music ‘Enter Sandman” to work the eighth. Up 3-0 manager Jim Leyland wasn’t 100% sure there would be a bottom of the ninth, but he wanted Rivera to pitch.
“They didn’t boo him because he’s a Yankee pitching in a National League park,” said Delabar, “they cheered him because they respect him, I had chills.”
After tipping his cap to both dugouts and fans, Rivera threw his warm-up pitches to catcher Salvador Perez, without any infielders or outfielders behind him.
He stood alone ... as he stands alone amongst closers.
“The next half inning when Prince Fielder tripled (past a diving Carlos Gomez) I was waving Prince over to third -- it was like a Little League game in our dugout there was so much excitement.”
After Rivera set down the NLers 1-2-3 -- a Jean Segura grounder, an Allen Craig liner to left and a Gomez grounder -- on 16 pitches (11 for strikes) fans and players were on their feet again.
Delabar said he talked to “our hitters, they say it’s a one-pitch hit cutter, but Mariano will mix in a two-seamer,” Delabar said. “It looks like a fastbal, fastball, fastball out of his hand and then it moves like a cutter at the end.”
“I had chills, Mets fans may have booed Cano, but they knew they were seeing Rivera in an all-star game for a final time,” said Edwin Encarnacion. “He’s a Hall of Fame player. He was very emotional on the mound.”
Rivera said he was surprised to leave the bullpen in what was basically a road game to hear his theme song, surprised to see both teams out of the dugout cheering and applauding, saying “that almost made me cry it was close. I will never forget that.”
Before the game, Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter and Rivera spoke to the AL team.
“They told us to ask questions as young guys to older players, because some day we’ll be the older guys passing on the same messages,” said Delabar. “They told us to cherish every moment, how the game goes by so quickly.
“Like these two days in New York moved so quickly.”
Rivera is in his 19th season and the end of his career is coming far too quickly.