Rivera throws off mound

Updated: March 6, 2009, 11:34 AM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera threw off a mound Thursday for the first time since offseason shoulder surgery, and the New York Yankees closer expects to be ready for Opening Day.

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Rivera, who had surgery Oct. 7 on the AC joint in his right shoulder, threw 15 pitches halfway up the mound and 15 more from the rubber at 85 to 90 percent power.

"I'm real pleased," Rivera said. "The big thing [Friday] is how I feel. I expect good things."

The right-hander hopes to make his spring training debut around March 17.

"That's what we're planning," Rivera said. "Every day is getting better and better."

Hideki Matsui, who had surgery on his left knee Sept. 22, returned to the starting lineup for the first time as the designated hitter when the Yankees played Canada's World Baseball Classic team on Thursday. Matsui will not play in the outfield during spring training games.

Reliever Edwar Ramirez, slowed by right shoulder bursitis, also threw 25 pitches off the mound and expects to have at least one more bullpen session before throwing to hitters.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press