After suffering with a severe sore throat for more than a month and now facing surgery to remove polyps from his vocal cords, Mariano Rivera said Thursday he was “worried” about what the biopsy could reveal.
“We were cautious and worried about what kind it is, if it’s benign,” the Yankees closer said with a thick rasp. “I’m positive. We have to send it to the lab, but hopefully it’s a good thing. I talked to the doctor and she said it doesn’t look like anything serious, but we have to take it to the lab and find out.”
Rivera will have the procedure done on Friday morning at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Despite Rivera’s obvious concern, people close to the pitcher have been told that the polyps are likely benign.
Rivera seemed at ease Thursday when he was honored with the Salvation Army’s Pinnacle of Achievement Award at a luncheon at the Marriott Marquis.
Rivera disclosed the throat problem on Nov. 22 at a Thanksgiving charity event, saying then that his condition had worsened considerably.
“Every time I talk, it gets worse and worse. I thought it was a little simple thing and I went to the doctor and she said they might have to do something,” Rivera had said. “When you’re talking about surgery, there’s no ‘simple.’”
Yankees GM Brian Cashman, citing the HIPAA privacy rule, has refused comment on the matter.
Throat polyps usually form on the vocal chords and often affect coaches, teachers, singers and actors, who are prone to straining their voice. Smoking can also be a cause, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Rivera does not smoke or chew tobacco.
The polyps appear as a “swelling or bump (like a nodule), a stalk-like growth, or a blister-like lesion,” according to the association. Symptoms include the feeling that there is a lump in the throat, hoarseness or breathiness, pain, vocal fatigue and a rough or scratchy voice.
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers had the same surgery this past spring. He was declared cancer-free by team doctors following his biopsy.
Country music star Keith Urban canceled concerts in November because of throat polyps.
Rivera, who has a year remaining on his contract, has hinted that the upcoming campaign might be his last. After posting a 1.91 ERA, 44 saves and passing Trevor Hoffman to become the all-time saves leader, it would be difficult to imagine him retiring before the season, barring a major health setback.
“I don’t like surgery, period, but the sooner the better,” Rivera said on Thursday. “I have a week without speaking, then another week and I should be fine