DETROIT -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura played with Mariano Rivera during the 2002 and 2003 seasons and was stunned by the season-ending torn ACL the Hall of Fame-bound closer sustained while shagging fly balls during Thursday batting practice. Ventura was surprised by the injury, not Rivera doing what he usually does before games.
"He did that every day," said Ventura of Rivera shagging fly balls. "It's horrible. You just don't expect that to happen. As great as he is, obviously the guy, as much as he means to the bullpen and that team, it's a big loss."
"You admire [Rivera's] professionalism and his consistency," added White Sox reliever Matt Thornton. "That's something as a late-inning reliever, I'm not a closer, but just being a late-inning guy, you model yourself after him. He's just the icon of closers."
Ventura pointed out that Rivera was probably the best Yankees outfielder when he was there, catching fly balls and running stuff down while shagging. He also had a decent arm, although Ventura joked that Rivera would have needed to start his throw at the third-base dugout to get that cutter home.
As for restrictions with his own pitchers on shagging, Ventura is thinking about it but doesn't want to alter any particular workout plan.
"There are a lot of guys who have done that for years and years," Ventura said. "You see pitchers who go out and get their running in. You can only do so much. I think some guys really enjoy doing that. He's done it for a long time. One incident is not necessarily going to stop you from having guys shag."
"At times, I power shag," Thornton said. "There were a couple of guys who I came up with, and that was the kind of thing they would do. They would run, but during batting practice, get after it. Jeff Nelson, he would be in left-center every day and he would run 20 or 25 balls down. He ran all over the place. That was their conditioning and it's a great regimen."