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Rivera says he'll consider offers from other teams

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera had this warning for the
New York Yankees: If he becomes a free agent, he'll consider offers
from other teams.

"Everybody has the same shot," he said Wednesday. "The
Yankees will not have an advantage."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called the 37-year-old
closer Tuesday night, a day after Rivera said he was hoping for a
contract extension. Cashman told Rivera his preference is to push
back the matter until after the season.

"It's very hard, despite how great Mariano is, to all of a
sudden pick and choose who to start discussing contracts with,"
Cashman said. "If you start picking and choosing one, someone else
is sitting there saying, 'Well, why not me?'"

Catcher Jorge Posada also is entering the final season of his
contract, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez can opt out of his deal
after the World Series.

Rivera, the backbone of the Yankees during their run of nine
straight AL East titles, will earn $10.5 million this year, the
final season of a three-year agreement. When he was about to enter
the final season of his contract in 2004, the Yankees negotiated an
extension during spring training.

"Everybody has the same shot. The
Yankees will not have an advantage."
-- Mariano Rivera

"The Yankees always knew that I wanted to be with the Yankees
and finish my career with the Yankees," he said. "If they don't
want to do [anything] with me, I'm not go home crying. I'm going to
move on."

He doesn't see himself playing in another uniform.

"But if I have to, I have to do it," he said.

Rivera wants to pitch for the team in the new Yankee Stadium in
2009 and said he wasn't upset with the team's decision. The
37-year-old right-hander doesn't want to discuss his contract
during the season.

Last fall, when Mike Mussina was eligible for free agency, the
Yankees started talks with his agent soon after their season ended
and agreed to a $23 million, two-year deal. It appears likely that
if Rivera has a season typical for him, New York will act on a
similar timetable.

"We are fine with that," said Rivera's agent, Fernando Cuza.

Rivera was 5-5 with 34 saves and an 1.80 ERA last year, when he
was sidelined from Aug. 31 to Sept. 22 because of a muscle strain
near his right elbow.

"Maybe they're thinking they've got to wait for me if I'm
healthy or not. I don't know what they're thinking," he said.

Manager Joe Torre said Tuesday that he plans to limit Rivera to
the ninth inning this season. Torre has said before, then brought
in Rivera during tough spots in the eighth.

"Sometimes it's going to be one inning. Sometimes it's going to
be two innings. I will never think one inning," Rivera said.

Yankees captain Derek Jeter, who worked out across the street at
the team's minor league complex, wasn't worried.

"Mo ain't going nowhere. Mo will be right here next year. Where
is he going to go?" Jeter said with a smile. "I'm just playing. I
don't know his situation to be honest. I'm sure he would want an
extension. I'd love to have an extension, too. To be honest with
you, I didn't even know he was a free agent after this year. I'm
sure they'll work it out."

Rivera isn't worried that the Yankees will treat him the same
way they've dealt with Bernie Williams, who thus far has refused to
accept the team's offer of a minor league contract.

"Bernie's an outfielder. I'm a pitcher," Rivera said. "As a
player, we have to understand that this is a business. I do
understand this is a business. You don't produce, you go home."

He's placed a few calls to Williams, but hasn't spoken with him.

"I've been trying, but no luck," Rivera said.

Jeter has gotten through to Williams.

"He's been a fixture here since I was in high school. I think
that's probably going to be the most awkward thing of the spring,
is not having Bernie here," Jeter said. "Bernie had a good year
last year. I mean, he wasn't expected to play much last season and
then because of injury he found himself in the lineup a lot. He did
a great job. Outstanding job. I don't know what the numbers are, I
don't know what the situations are, but I wish Bernie was here."