Empathetic Chipper thinks Rivera will be back

Empathetic Chipper thinks Rivera will be back

DENVER -- Chipper Jones is willing to provide any advice or motivation Mariano Rivera might want, as the Yankees closer spends the next few months attempting to prove he can return from the significant knee injury he suffered while shagging fly balls in batting practice on Thursday night.

Less than 24 hours after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, the 42-year-old Rivera has already said he will make every attempt to pitch again. The 40-year-old Jones delivered a similar message shortly after learning he had torn the ACL in his left knee for a second time on Aug. 10, 2010.

"I feel for anybody who blows an ACL, because your year is over," Jones said. "You're looking best-case scenario at five or six months. It's a shame, because Mo and I are coming down to the end. I doubt very seriously that he's thrown his last pitch. But you hate to cheat the fans from getting to see a guy like that pitch. "I wish him the best. If he needs any advice, I've been through it."

As a frustrated Jones watched the Braves participate in the 2010 playoffs without him, he remained motivated by the goal to be ready by the start of the following Spring Training. That helped him get through the rough days which followed as he rehabbed during the winter months.

Rivera's injury will likely prove to be season ending. But Jones said he will not be surprised if the veteran closer manages to prepare himself for the possibility of pitching for the Yankees during the playoffs.

"There's a lot of rehab involved," Jones said. "But with his work ethic, I think we all know he'll be ahead of schedule. If there is any possibility of coming back by the end of the season, I think Mo could probably do it."

Some of the concerns about Jones' return centered around the fact that he had also torn his left ACL before the start of the 1994 season. But most of the discomfort he felt last year came courtesy of the torn meniscus in his right knee.

Jones missed a little more than two weeks in July after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus. He was forced to undergo the same procedure on his left knee before the start of this season, and he has dealt with regular discomfort over the past couple of weeks.

But Jones has still provided significant value when he has been able to play this year. His walk-off home run in the 11th inning of Wednesday's thrilling win over the Phillies only solidified his belief that he made the right decision to return after suffering the significant knee injury two years ago.

"I felt cheated the last two months of the season, because I was playing good baseball at the time," Jones said. "I'm sure [Rivera] feels the same way, like he got cheated out of the last five months of the season. Nobody wants their last image to be of getting carted or carried off the field and have that be it. I know where he is coming from."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.