TAMPA, Fla. — New York Yankees reliever David Robertson is not overanalyzing his role as Mariano Rivera’s replacement.
Robertson is moving from an eighth-inning setup man to closer following Rivera’s retirement.
“It’s the same deal,” Robertson said Tuesday after a pre-spring training workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex. “Throwing the eighth or ninth inning, you’ve still got to get three outs. You’ve got to be effective. You can’t give up a lead. I’m not going to try to overthink the whole situation.”
Rivera has said that Robertson, a former SWB Yankee, is the right man for the role. The former teammates spent time together last month at the New York baseball writers’ dinner.
“First thing he said is, ‘You scared?’” Robertson recalled. “I’m like, ‘No.’ It’s typical Mo. He’s all over my case already. I haven’t even thrown a pitch yet, and he’s on me. He knows I can do it, and I think I know I can do it. It’s just a matter of actually stepping out there and doing it.”
Given the chance to fill in as closer when Rivera injured a knee in 2012, Robertson strained muscle in his left ribcage. Rafael Soriano took over as closer for the rest of the season. Robertson went 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 70 games last year, striking out 77 in 66 1-3 innings.
“He’s been in some huge situations here,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He’s been around Mo. He’s in a good position to know what he has to do. He’s done everything that you could ask him to do to this point to become a closer. Now it’s just a matter of executing the pitches. Unless he gets overwhelmed by the situation, I don’t anticipate major problems.”