Yankees Notebook: Rivera gets surgery date

Rivera still plans on coming back next season.

Mariano Rivera finally has a surgery date. He said that he will undergo surgery on the torn ACL in his right knee on June 12.

The procedure will be performed by Dr. David Altchek now that the blood clot in his leg went away. Rivera said May 9 that he had a blood clot in his leg, but Wednesday said the clotting had gone away last week.

Rivera remains on blood thinning medication so time to worry about his situation has been limited.

“I’ve been so busy with therapy,” he said. “I don’t even think about it. When I come home, I’m tired. Then I watch the game. It’s a full day. It’s a lot of work.”

He also reiterated that he intends on making a full recovery and comeback next season.

“Oh yeah, there’s no doubt about that,” Rivera said. “I always believe in miracles.”

Oppenheimer talks draft

Two days after making pitcher Ty Hensley their top pick, amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer spoke about the pitcher, saying his size made him a durable player and that the Yankees don’t envision having any difficulties signing him.

“We’re really excited on this guy just because he’s got the ideal pitcher’s body,” Oppenheimer said in a conference call. “He’s got a fastball that we’ve had up to 97 [mph] and plus he’s got a power curveball and we think he’s got a really good work ethic and makeup. So we think we got a good chance at a guy who has got a high ceiling here.”

The first-year player draft concluded Wednesday and the two picks that followed Hensley were two-sport high school outfielder Austin Aune and University of Miami (Fla.) catcher Peter O’Brien, who were the 89th and 94th picks respectively.

Aune is from Argyle High School outside of Texas. He led his team with a .447 batting average, hit eight home runs and had 41 RBI.

Aune had a scholarship to Texas Christian University to play football and baseball. He was a high school quarterback, but told the Dallas Morning News he had already signed.

As for O’Brien, he is coming off a broken left wrist that cost him Miami’s final 17 regular season games and the first ACC tournament game. O’Brien did return for the NCAA tournament, but Miami’s season ended with a pair of blowout losses to Stony Brook and Missouri State.

Before getting hurt, he was a first-team All-ACC player that led the team with a .338 batting average, .633 slugging percentage and 10 home runs.

O’Brien is the first Miami player picked by the Yankees in the first 10 rounds since third baseman Mike Pagliarulo was a sixth-round pick in 1981.

“We think it’s a good haul,” Oppenheimer said. “We think we’ve got a good group of guys. We got to work on getting them signed now, but with Hensley and an athletic outfielder that can hit like Aune and you add a catching type guy like Pete O’Brien, who has got big power, the beat goes on with quite a few of these guys.

“It was a diverse group and a group that has got talent. It should give us some guys that can impact the Yankees whether it is in New York or give us the depth and value to our system.”

The draft concluded with the Yankees selecting 21 pitchers, including Jose Mesa’s son. They also picked 11 outfielders, six infielders and three catchers.

Standings check

If you’re not used to the AL East being this close on June 6, then you’re not alone. Entering Wednesday’s games, only three games separate first place from last place.

A year ago on this date, seven games separated the five teams and two years ago, it was a 21-game divide. This year is just the fifth time since the current format was instituted in 1994 that the five teams are separated by less than 10 games.

“You have a pretty good idea of what your record is and other teams record is,” manager Joe Girardi said. “But I haven’t checked the standings to see exactly where every team is because I think at this time of year you’re really caught up with how you’re doing and how you’re playing.”

The last time five AL East teams were within three games of each other through June 5 was under the old seven-team format in 1983. That year, the eventual World Champion Orioles were in a three-way tie with the Blue Jays and Red Sox while the Brewers and Yankees lurked 2 1/2 games out.

“If someone would have asked me at this point, do you think the spread will be three games, I would have said no,” Girardi said “I think that’s pretty unusual. I wouldn’t have guessed that. Would I have said there would be tough games within our division, I would have said yes.”

The only other instance during the divisional format was during the 1981 strike-shortened season when the Orioles, Yankees, Brewers, Red Sox and Indians were within 2 1/2 games of each other.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.


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