Mariano's injury won't change Mets' routine

Mariano's injury won't change Mets' routine

Mariano's injury won't change Mets' routine
NEW YORK -- A group of Mets pitchers stood in the outfield at Citi Field on Friday afternoon, shagging fly balls as they usually do. That will not change in the wake of Yankees closer Mariano Rivera's season-ending knee injury, which Mets manager Terry Collins called a "freaky" aberration.

"It is an everyday routine, but certainly freaky things happen and that's certainly a very, very sad time," Collins said. "This game is about the stars. It will always be about the players. And when you lose a guy of his caliber, the entire industry is hurt -- not just him. I just hope that he comes back from it and when he decides that he's done, that he goes out the way he wants to."

One of Rivera's teammates for five seasons with the Yankees, Darryl Strawberry, recalled seeing the closer bang into outfield walls "many a time" while shagging flies during batting practice.

"But he was younger then," Strawberry said. "So when you get a little older, you've got to be a little cautious about things.

"You look at the injury, and you just think, 'Wow, why would it have to happen like this?'" "When you get older, your body's not the same anymore. Anything can happen. You're not as strong as you used to be. It's an unfortunate injury for him, and you just have to see where it takes him and hope he gets healthy."

Strawberry was not surprised that Rivera vowed to return from his injury.

"He probably wants to come out, because he doesn't want it to end like this," Strawberry said. "Any player that's played as long as Mo has, and played the game as well as he has and pitched as well as he has, he doesn't want to probably end his career on a sour note. He didn't come in on a sour note, so I don't think he wants to go out on a sour note."

Shagging fly balls, Collins noted, has long been a pregame tradition for pitchers. Many use it as an alternative to running or throwing programs, keeping their bodies in shape over the long summer.

"He was doing something that he's done his whole career," said Mets reliever Tim Byrdak, who underwent a more minor knee operation earlier this spring. "And out of nowhere, to see something like that happen, it just stinks."

Rivera's countryman, Ruben Tejada, said that many in Panama were devastated by news of the closer's injury.

"In Panama, he's a hero," Tejada said. "He's like Rod Carew, he's a big guy there. Being from Panama, we all feel bad.