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Mo on starting ASG: 'I'd rather pitch in ninth'

Mo on starting ASG: 'I'd rather pitch in ninth'

Mo on starting ASG: 'I'd rather pitch in ninth'

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera says he'd prefer to take on his customary role and close the All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field rather than start the Midsummer Classic.

Rivera plans to retire after this season, and there has been buzz in the baseball community about him starting the game. But Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com on Sunday that he doesn't like the idea.

"I've been told about it, but I don't like it," Rivera said. "And the reason why I say that is it's not what I do. What I do is close the games; I don't start the games. It's a privilege and honor, but I'm not contemplating it."

Rivera also told MLB.com last month that he wasn't interested in starting the game.

"It would mess up everything," Rivera said at the time. "It would be the first time I've started, I think, since 1995. I don't think it would be right. I'd rather close the game than start the game."

Rivera does understand that the All-Star Game is a fan-centric event and that many would love to see him pitch in the first inning.

"I do respect everyone trying to do it," he said. "But first of all, I have to be there. Second of all, I don't start. That's not what I do. I know they want to honor me for my career, and I know it's here in New York. But the thing is, I wouldn't be comfortable making a start."

The 43-year-old Rivera has a Major League-record 634 career saves during the regular season and four in the All-Star Game.

The idea is that if he starts, Rivera would be guaranteed an appearance in the Classic, whereas if he were to serve as a reliever, he may not see the field based on the game situation. But he wants things to be as normal as can be.

"I think the right thing is to do it the way it [normally] is," Rivera said. "I don't want to start the game and give up 10 runs in the first inning. I'd rather pitch in the ninth than the first."

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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