Mariano gets early starts on whiffs

Mariano gets early starts on whiffs

Mariano gets early starts on whiffs
Whiff (wif)
n.: A slight inhalation of a scent, such as a fragrance.
v.: To swing and miss for strike three on a pitched ball, such as a cutter.

Mariano Rivera, Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader whose season ended in May when he tore the ACL in his right knee, can now be seen back on a mound. He is firing baseballs at a fancy camera rather than at Russell Martin's mitt.

Making a public pitching appearance in a video released Monday on MLB.com, the longtime Yankees closer was filmed Nov. 9 after a snowstorm in the Northeast, making 25 prop pitches for "First Throw," to promote the New York Yankees fragrance and the launch of his Signature Limited Edition EDT for the holidays.

Rivera, a pitchman for the fragrance brand, was all business even in the relaxed film-shoot setting, talking matter-of-fact optimistically about his day job.

"Feeling good," Rivera said of his overall progress. "Rehab has been great. It's been tough, but at the same time, I'm seeing good results. I can't wait to continue and stay 100 percent ... day at a time, like I always told you guys ... day at a time.

"I have a long time to go. I'm not rushing. You have to make sure that my knee gets stronger. It does. It's getting stronger and stronger every day. I'm happy with that. I just have to continue doing what I'm doing."

Rivera, who has struck out 1,119 batters over 18 seasons, tore his the ACL attempting to catch a fly ball during batting practice in early May. He remains hopeful of extending his career, which had been expected to end after a complete 2012 season.

"I didn't want to go out like that," Rivera said of his injury-shortened '12. "But at the same time, we haven't discussed anything. We're talking, so hopefully we'll finalize everything. I have something left. Give it a shot, why not?"

Amid that progress, Rivera took to the mound at the Hackley School's DelMoro Field in Tarrytown, N.Y., a key Metro North train stop for Yankees game nights, taking fans to the Bronx to see No. 42 rack up many of his 608 saves.

Rivera, who turns 43 on Nov. 29, threw a series of pitches directly into the lens of an Alexa camera, the same camera used to film Ridley Scott's "Prometheus." "First Throw" was written and directed by Duncan Bird, creative director of The Cloudbreak Group, and filmed by director Stefan Haverkamp, with music specially composed by Paul Dillon from Miracle Falls.

"We are honored that Mariano would choose to make his first public throws for Cloudbreak and his Signature New York Yankees EDT," Bird said. "He's such a fantastic athlete, and it looks amazing watching him throw in such slow motion. Rivera seemed to enjoy destroying the protective shield we built, while very nearly taking out our cameraman."

The Yankees and Cloudbreak Group will donate 20 percent of all sales at NYYankeesFragrance.com during November and December to the American Red Cross in support of Hurricane Sandy relief. Cloudbreak Group guarantees at least $10,000 to the efforts, in addition to the 20 percent from website sales.

"We have had an overwhelming response since the launch of the New York Yankees fragrance collection and are pleased that our loyal fans in the Tri-State area have embraced these products," Cloudbreak Group CEO Thomas Butkiewicz said. "As a member of the Yankees family, we recognize the needs of these individuals during this difficult time and are proud to help support them."

The Mariano Rivera Signature Limited Edition EDT comes in a translucent blue bottle, featuring the iconic Yankees logo and Mariano's signature on the front, with RIVERA 42 on the back. The Rivera EDT is available for $85 at Macy's, Lord & Taylor and NYYankeesFragrance.com, along with the rest of the New York Yankees fragrance collection.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the Mariano Rivera Signature Limited Edition EDT will go to The Mariano Rivera Foundation. The foundation provides scholarships to qualified youth and sponsors youth centers and churches that implement educational programs, which benefit underprivileged families in their communities. The scents were developed by The Cloudbreak Group and Firmenich.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.