While the Cubs are making a move with their closer's role, the Yankees were dealt a severe blow Thursday when stopper Mariano Rivera went down for the season with a torn ACL.
The 42-year-old right-hander caught his foot in the grass in Kansas City while shagging balls during batting practice.
Dale Sveum played with Rivera in 1998. The Cubs manager only appeared in 30 games for the Yankees that season and was released in August, but stayed on as a bullpen catcher as the team went on to win the World Series.
"He's the ultimate professional and teammate that anybody could ever have," Sveum said.
The injury could very well be the final chapter on Rivera's storied career, though the intense competitor vows he will return.
Rivera has more saves than anybody else in Major League Baseball history (608) and boasts a career 2.21 ERA and near-unreal 0.99 WHIP. As if that wasn't good enough, he carries a 0.70 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in postseason play with 42 saves.
"His stats talk for themselves," Sveum said. "He's the best closer and relief pitcher that's ever put on a uniform. In postseason play, regular season play. There's never been somebody that dominant for such a long period of time, even at the age he's been at."
Fans, players and coaches around the country were saddened by Rivera's freak injury, but Sveum said this one instance shouldn't shape the way Cubs pitchers shag balls in batting practice.
"You don't want to see people going crazy or jumping over walls or doing those things. But I don't think you worry about injuries like that," Sveum said. "The game's been going on for 100 years. Every once in a while, you do see something happen like that, but part of some of the pitchers' condititiong is shagging fly balls and doing things like that.
"Sometimes, those things are unfortunate, but people could get hurt walking to the ballpark, too."