NEW YORK -- Could Mariano Rivera be back on the mound by the end of the season? The Yankees aren't expecting the all-time saves leader to be ready before 2013, but Rivera isn't ruling out the possibility.
Rivera spoke optimistically about a September return in an interview on Monday with ESPN Radio's Michael Kay, addressing a published report that suggested his torn right ACL might not be a season-ending injury after all.
"That's my goal," Rivera said. "Definitely, that's my goal. I'm not thinking about it, because if it doesn't happen, I will be disappointed. So I'm taking it day by day. I'm working hard and doing what I'm supposed to do. I don't want to put something in my mind.
"I want to make sure that I do my things first. That's what I'm doing, that's the way I'm thinking. Day by day, positive, optimism. Whatever the Lord will allow to happen, that will happen."
The New York Post reported last week that while Rivera's working theory is that he is out for the season, his rehabilitation is ahead of schedule. The Post quoted Dr. Keith Pyne, who is overseeing Rivera's rehab, as saying that "if I was putting money on it, I would put my money on Mo."
Rivera was injured on May 3 in Kansas City while shagging batting-practice fly balls. He did not undergo surgery until June 12 because of a blood clot in his right leg, but doctors have been impressed by how quickly he is recovering.
"I'm working. I'm feeling good," Rivera said. "That's all I can tell you. I feel good and the therapy is great. Everything is good. You have to continue working hard and wait to get on the field."
The 42-year-old Rivera was 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA and five saves this year. He has 608 career saves and said he has been tossing baseballs with his children, but will not guarantee that he'll be pitching to any big league hitters this season.
"I don't know," Rivera said. "I don't know. I can't answer that. I want to. I want to be there now. Only God knows."