TAMPA, Fla. -- David Robertson had a few years to sit by Mariano Rivera's side in the bullpen, soaking up as much information as possible before watching the all-time saves leader jog through the outfield to do his work in the ninth inning.
So it meant a lot to Robertson when Rivera gave him his stamp of approval as the next Yankees closer, saying that he is a capable successor and ready for the job. He also knows that the first time a blown save costs the Yankees a game, Rivera won't bite his tongue.
"I'm sure that he'll have plenty of advice for me after I blow one, then he'll be all over my case about it," Robertson said with a laugh. "He'll probably show up in the clubhouse."
Robertson sat next to Rivera at the Baseball Writers Association of America awards dinner last month in New York and said Rivera "basically made fun of me the whole time, like he always does."
"First thing he says at the writers dinner: 'You nervous?'" Robertson recalled. "And I'm like, 'No. We're not even in spring yet.' But that's just Mo. He's been on my case, in a good way, for the last couple of years. And it's been a lot of fun. It's been a great learning curve."
Robertson does not look at the closer's role as much different from the setup role he had been filling in the eighth, since the most important thing is to record three outs and get off the field.
Still, he has thought about trying to use the low-pressure environment of Spring Training as a way to prepare for what he'll experience in April.
"I'm going to have to try and make pitches that I might not make in the eighth inning -- pitch in on guys, throw breaking balls in different counts, changeups, all sorts of things," he said. "[I should] learn to control the zone a little better.
"I'm definitely going to have to cut down on walks. I know I did a little better job of that last year, but I'd still like to cut down even more. That's going to be the biggest thing, trying to make better pitches in spring and getting myself more prepared for when we get to Yankee Stadium and a real game is on the line."