GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- When Mariano Rivera announced that the 2013 season would be his last, the impact was felt not just in the Yankees organization but throughout all of baseball.
"It's kind of sad to see a guy going through his last [season], but if you had to pick a career, that wouldn't be a bad one to pick," said Indians outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona, whose Boston Red Sox teams faced Rivera a number of times, echoed those sentiments.
"In the modern era, I don't know if there is anyone that can touch him," Francona said. "Just quiet [with a lot of] class."
Swisher was a teammate of Rivera's from 2009-12 and prior to that, he hit against Rivera as a member of the Oakland Athletics and Chicago White Sox.
"It doesn't matter if he's 22 or 42," Swisher said. "He's a perfectionist. He knows what he's doing. He has a plan and knows exactly what he is doing every time he goes out there. I faced him about seven or eight years ago and I'm excited to see what it's like now, because he is the best."
If it's even possible to understate when saying someone is the best, it may be exactly what Swisher did when describing Rivera. The 18-year veteran enters the 2013 season with 608 saves and a 2.21 career ERA in over 1,200 innings pitched. Rivera is also a 12-time All-Star with five World Series rings.
"His numbers kind of speak for themselves," Swisher said. "He's been doing it for so long and he's done it the right way. ... Congratulations to him. It was an honor for me to play with him for four years and I just wish him the best of luck."
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less