WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. White Plains orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Louis McIntyre believes New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera will be able to return to the mound after he undergoes repair to his injured knee.
McIntyre, who is the Chief of Orthopaedics for the Westchester Orthopaedic Associates in White Plains, said Rivera will undergo an arthroscopic procedure and could return to pitching within six months.
"The anterior cruciate ligament tear is a very common injury with up to 100,000 occurring each year and most of them similar to Mariano's, where there was no contact involved," McIntyre said. "We had three non-contact tears on the White Plains High School football team this year. Once the surgery is done, it takes six to eight months of therapy before an athlete can play at full capacity. Rivera will be able to return, but his age may determine how well because he is near the end of his career."
Rivera, who tore both the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus in his right knee while shagging fly balls prior to a game in Kansas City, Mo. Thursday, vowed Friday to return to the mound.
I am coming back. Put it down, Rivera told a group of reporters in Kansas City. Write it down. In big letters. When you love the game and you like to compete, it would be tough to go out like this. "I cant go down like this.
The Harrison resident and all-time saves leader with 608, was chasing a fly ball during batting practice when his right leg hit the dirt running track near the outfield wall and gave way. He underwent an MRI and was diagnosed with two tears late Thursday and was unsure at first whether he would attempt to resume his career.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Yovani Gallardo was 22 when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on May 1, 2008, and made a remarkable recovery to start again that Sept. 25, five months later. Rivera is 42 but known to be in top physical condition.
Michael Mirabella, a Westchester Orthopaedic Associaties certified athletic trainer who works with local athletes at White Plains High School in training, prevention and rehabilitation, said Rivera should be able to recover and play again at a high level in six to eight months depending on the repair and rehab.
"With a professional player like Mariano Rivera you expect he will be dedicated to his therapy and have the best people working with him every day," Mirabella said. "The fact that he is older can make the recovery more difficult than with a younger person, but he has a strong work ethic."
Mirabella said the first part of the therapy process will deal with pain management and recovery followed by the building of surrounding quadriceps and other muscles to help secure the knee.
"This injury is very common now, especially with young girls who depend more on their joints than they do on their muscles," Mirabella said. "We have a training program that includes building and strengthening muscle to help prevent ACL tears. In [Rivera's] case, pitching integrates muscles in the arm, shoulders, back and legs, so he will have to work on the whole package. You can't just rehab the knee and go out and pitch."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.