Rivera to pitch the ninth on Sunday
Closer will take the hill whether Yankees are winning or losing
NEW YORK -- The ninth inning will belong to Mariano Rivera on Sunday, that much has already been decided.
In all probability, "Enter Sandman" will be played one last time, whether the Yankees are winning or losing, save situation or not. The only happenstance manager Joe Girardi remains wary of is a dreaded tie.
"My only fear is that it's a tie, because I want to see Mo pitch that last inning," Girardi said. "Rightfully, in the ninth inning, there's only one guy to have on the mound."
Girardi said on Friday that he has put a lot of thought into the proper way to steer the Yankees' ship for Sunday's 8:05 p.m. ET finale, the last game to be played at the current Yankee Stadium.
Sentimentality was a major reason that Girardi selected Andy Pettitte to start the final game, citing the left-hander's storied career of service to the organization.
"I think there's a lot of thought that goes into it, because you want to feel that you did it the right way, and the way that honors the organization and the Stadium the most," Girardi said.
While Girardi has not finalized all of his plans, he hinted that he might remove Pettitte in the middle of an inning instead of between frames to allow the fans one more chance to salute him in the building.
"The ovation that I think he would get would be incredible," Girardi said.
The Yankees are also looking forward to the ceremonies to precede Sunday's game, with the Yankee Stadium return of Bernie Williams expected to bring the house down.
The New York Daily News reported on Friday that approximately 40 former Yankees players will take part in the ceremony, and Williams -- whose last Stadium appearance came as a player in October 2006 -- will be front and center, quite literally.
"It's going to be awesome," Pettitte said. "It's going to be Bernie's first time back, so that's going to be pretty special, for sure. I'm looking forward to seeing him. I'm sure he's going to get a wonderful ovation."
Williams is expected to jog to center field and take his position one more time in the ceremony, which will also feature representatives from the families of deceased Yankees greats Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Thurman Munson and Phil Rizzuto, among numerous others.
"I'm so excited," Girardi said. "A lot of us tried to get Bernie to come back. For players, there's a time that you go through when you retire that is difficult. You still want to be playing."
Girardi said that he would like to discuss having Williams attend the Yankees' Spring Training in Tampa, Fla., as a guest instructor, a topic that could be addressed with general manager Brian Cashman after the season.
"I wish that Bernie would come around a lot more," Girardi said.
The Daily News also reported that an additional closing ceremony and concert will be held on Nov. 9 at Yankee Stadium, expected to be attended by more than 300 former players. The Yankees have not officially released details concerning that event.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.