Rivera said that he was blessed with the ideal conclusion to his career on Thursday, when the 43-year-old closer retired all four Rays batters he faced and tearfully handed the ball off to longtime teammates Andy Pettitte and Derek Jeter.
"I know it was the perfect moment," Rivera said. "It was something I would have never expected."
Rivera also revealed that he has been pitching with "tremendous soreness" in his right forearm for some time, but that he did not want to talk about it, instead silently managing it to get through the season.
He said that he had to give everything he had to face those final four Tampa Bay hitters.
"I think I squeezed every ounce of fuel out of my tank," Rivera said. "It is empty. I have nothing left."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had given Rivera full control to decide if and when he would play during the final three games of the regular season against the Astros.
Girardi said that he checked with Rivera about pitching on Friday and was told that Rivera was unavailable. Rivera again told Girardi on Saturday that he was not able to pitch.
Girardi believes that Thursday's Yankee Stadium sendoff was so well choreographed that Rivera is reluctant to make another appearance.
"I think that's a big part of it," Girardi said. "That was a special night for him, and the way it unfolded, I think he wants it to end that way. But if he changes his mind, it's OK. Whatever he wants to do."
Rivera has also shied away from his desire to play center field for an inning. Girardi has said that he "absolutely" would permit Rivera to do so, but Rivera has voiced concerns about the state of his surgically reconstructed right knee.
"I did consider it strongly," Rivera said. "If it would have been a few years earlier, I would have done it. Now my knee is not cooperating. I'm not going to make a fool of myself out there. I respect the game too much for me to do something that I'm not supposed to be doing."
"At least I gave him the opportunity," Girardi said. "It's his decision."
Rivera is set to retire with 652 career regular-season saves, plus an all-time record 42 more in the postseason. Rivera owns a 2.21 ERA in 1,115 regular-season games and an 0.70 ERA in 96 postseason contests.
The Astros will honor Rivera in a pregame ceremony Sunday. Rivera said that he is planning to spend a considerable amount of time signing autographs and meeting with fans during his last three days as a Major Leaguer.
"My message is, thank you. Thank you for your support," Rivera said. "It has been amazing. The fans have been spectacular. You see how much time I've spent signing, because I think they deserve it. That's the least that I can do for them. Definitely, I thank them very much."