TAMPA, Fla. -- Things are beginning to feel normal again for closer Mariano Rivera, who is having little difficulty sliding back into his dominant routine.
Saying that he felt "outstanding" on a chilly Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Rivera needed just nine pitches to navigate through a breezy fifth inning, inducing three ground-ball outs while shattering two bats.
"Bat companies love him," manager Joe Girardi said. "I do, too."
Rivera was most pleased by the last pitch he threw, which was rapped on the ground to first base by Domonic Brown. Rivera covered first base, but Juan Rivera fielded the ball for an unassisted putout.
"The last pitch, going to first base, that's what I want," Mariano said. "Attacking, moving, I felt good. Real good."
Rivera said that his surgically repaired right knee felt normal during the outing, but he wasn't prepared to proclaim himself fully recovered just yet.
"A few more outings. I want to throw more pitches," he said. "I'm getting there."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.