CLEVELAND -- When news spread about Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and the torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee, all bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. could do was shake his head.
"That's what happens in sports," said Alomar. "People can fall in the shower and bust everything up. It happened to him shagging fly balls on the field, something he's been doing for years. It's just unfortunate for a guy that has a lot of respect, it's a shame that he goes down that way. But that's the nature of this game or in sports."
Rivera, baseball's all-time leader in saves and games finished, sustained the injury on Thursday. Less than 24 hours later, he vowed to put off retirement and rehab his injury in an attempt to return to the mound.
"He is the best at what he does," said Tribe closer Chris Perez. "He's the best closer ever. Hopefully, he can rehab and come back and go out on his own terms. I think he deserves that."
Rivera's knee buckled while he was shagging fly balls in the outfield prior to Thursday's contest. It's a routine he has practiced throughout his 18-year career. Perez, who also shags before games, said that sustaining a non-pitching injury would be more frustrating but cautioned that such an injury could occur at any time.
"We're not immune; we're human just like anybody else," Perez said. "We could get hurt slipping in the bathtub. If you're not careful, it could happen at any time. It's just unfortunate. It was an awkward situation. It was a freak thing."
Left fielder Johnny Damon played with Rivera in New York from 2006 to 2009 and couldn't blame the 42-year-old for maintaining his outfield routine.
"For the past 17 years, he was probably the best center fielder the New York Yankees had," Damon said. "That's how good of a shagger he was. It was just one of those freak things."