HOUSTON -- It figures to be nearly impossible for Mariano Rivera to top the emotional farewell he experienced on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, which creates an interesting dilemma for the Yankees as they visit the Astros for this weekend's season-ending series.
Rivera's final pinstriped exit, handing the ball off to Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte before burying his face in Pettitte's shoulder and weeping, created a touching and poignant memory that could perfectly cap the 43-year-old's career.
But manager Joe Girardi said that it is possible that Rivera could still take the mound in the Astros series, and he also remains open to the idea of playing Rivera in center field during one of these three games. Girardi said that he is giving Rivera the responsibility for all of those decisions.
"I'll talk to him every day to see what he wants to do," Girardi said. "I know he's talked about playing some center field, but I know he has some concern about his leg running out there. That's really up to him. If he wants to do it, he can do it. I'm OK with it."
Girardi said that he has received many positive calls, text messages and e-mails from friends around the league, commenting on how Thursday's game was handled.
"I didn't really think about that, but I just thought it was fitting that those two guys went and got him," Girardi said.
Rookie catcher J.R. Murphy said that he was blessed to be a part of it.
"I'm sure Andy and Jeet would say the same thing -- that moment was all about Mo," Murphy said.
Murphy said that after Rivera left the mound, he and reliever Matt Daley -- both instantly the answers to Yankees trivia questions -- embraced their good fortune.
"I know Matt pretty well from playing with him this year [in the Minors]," Murphy said. "First I told him, 'Let's wait a second, let this soak in.' I told him, 'Look around.' It was pretty cool for us to be out there taking that all in."