DETROIT -- Yankees closer Mariano Rivera told ESPNNewYork.com on Sunday that he'd rather take on his customary role and close the All-Star Game on July 16 at Citi Field than start the Midsummer Classic.
Nobody could be happier to hear the news than manager Jim Leyland, the manager of the American League All-Star squad.
"Thank God for Mariano, he took me off the hook from all that silly [stuff] that they said about him starting the game," Leyland said. "He doesn't want to start the game, so he put an end to that for me, and I'm so happy about it because that's some silly [stuff] that I don't have to listen to."
Leyland and the Tigers gave Rivera a photo display of Rivera pitching at both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park in his last regular-season trip to Detroit.
"I gave him a plaque," Leyland said. "And I hope I give him the ball in the ninth inning in New York."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.