New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera announced Saturday that he is retiring after this season, leaving baseball as the game's greatest closer of all-time.

Rivera made the announcement at a news conference at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla.

A likely first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, the 43-year-old Rivera is a 12-time All-Star and played on five World Series championship teams. The career saves leader with 608, Rivera has only blown 39 saves in his career, and posted a 2.21 ERA with 1,119 strikeouts in 1,219 2/3 innings.

"After this year, I will be retiring," he said with his family at his side.

"It's not too easy when you come to a decision like this. After this year, I will be retired. ... Now you're hearing it from me. It's official now."

Rivera said he would have retired after the 2012 season, but sustained a season-ending torn ACL in May, and wanted to exit on his own terms.

"I didn't want to leave like that," he said. "I felt like I wanted to give everything."

He was expected to appear in relief Saturday in an exhibition game against the Atlanta Braves for the first time since his injury.

"He is irreplaceable," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He is the greatest of all-time. I've known him since he has been in the minor leagues. He has never changed once. You have seen a lot of players get a lot of money and a lot of notoriety and become famous and they change over time. He hasn't changed a bit."


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"Obviously, one of the greatest of all time," agreed Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "You know, I've really enjoyed watching him, when I was not managing, and I enjoyed competing against him when I was managing," Leyland said. "He's the ultimate professional. You never hear anything, he never says anything. He never showed anybody up. He just did his job. He's an absolute, absolute, total credit to the game."

"I think there was a few years when he was with the Yankees, that he was actually the MVP of the league. That's how I feel. I felt when he was saving all those playoff games, and the job he did in the postseason, I felt he should've been voted Most Valuable Player - for the season, not the playoffs," Leyland said.

"I thought you could make case for him being the MVP. That's how good I thought he was.

"What I think he meant to the Yankees - we talk about this all the time when we talk about our closer situation - the mentality the Yankees had because they had him was totally different. When the Yankees took the field in the ninth inning, they never thought they were going to lose. Never. I'll guarantee you. They never thought they were going to lose. The game was over. That's pretty good."

The right-hander has also logged 141 postseason innings, and posted 42 saves in 47 chances with a 0.70 ERA.

Rivera hopes to add to his playoff credentials.

"The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series," he said. "Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition."

Contributing: Matt Mowery of the Oakland (Mich.) Press