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Baseball notes: Mariano Rivera back on mound for Yankees

TERRY FRANCONA
TERRY FRANCONA

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw 25 pitches Friday in his first batting practice session since knee surgery last year and said he was happy with the results in Tampa.

‘‘It feels great to be on the mound,’’ said Rivera, who expects to throw BP one or two more times. ‘‘Basically, just wanted to see hitters. I’m excited. Build up, and we’ll go from there.’’

Rivera, 43, was limited to nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery to repair the injury June 12.

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‘‘He looked great,’’ manager Joe Girardi said. ‘‘Looked like what you’d expect him to look like, which is a good thing.’’

Rivera is a 12-time All-Star with 608 saves in the regular season and 42 more in the postseason. After additional BP sessions, he might throw a simulated game before starting exhibition play ahead of the Yankees’ April 1 opener against the Red Sox in New York.

CC Sabathia, likely to start that opener, threw 40 pitches during his third bullpen session and intends to throw batting practice Monday.

Papelbon sounds off

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon feels his team lacked leadership last season, and made it known to reporters on Friday.

On the day that the Phillies began exhibition play with an intrasquad scrimmage, Papelbon, who left the Red Sox for Philadelphia last season, reiterated his stance from earlier in the week that says: ‘‘Since I've been here, I haven’t seen any leadership.’’

Papelbon says he didn’t say anything that’s not accurate, especially considering the 2012 Phillies were coming off a 102-win season.

‘‘It was an all-around leadership void from A to Z,’’ Papelbon said. ‘‘From being a vocal leader to being an off-the-field leader to being an on-the-field leader to everything.

“You can’t just point your finger at what type of leadership was missing. It was the whole part of the equation. Our team identity is formed by that leadership.’’

Debut win for Indians’ Francona

When the winning run crossed home plate in the ninth inning Friday, giving Cleveland an 11-10 comeback win over the Reds at Goodyear, Ariz., in Terry Francona’s spring debut with the Indians, the two-time World Series winner wasn’t quite sure what to do.

‘‘I just don’t know if everybody knew it was a walkoff,’’ Francona said with a laugh. ‘‘Everybody was kind of looking around. Nobody knew how to act.’’

For Francona, it had been a while.

Back in a dugout for the first time since parting ways with the Red Sox after the 2011 season, Francona opened a new era with the Indians, who after luring him away from broadcasting in October, spent nearly $120 million on free agents.

Francona’s got some work to do to get the Indians back into contention, but this was a start.

‘‘Yeah, today was good,’’ Francona said. ‘‘The starters got three innings just like we wanted. Everybody got an at-bat or two to kind of shake off the rust a little bit.’’

Gonzalez says PED tests negative

Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez says tests for performance-enhancing drugs he was given by MLB have come back negative. Gonzalez and other players were listed in a Miami New Times report as receiving PEDs in purported records of a now-closed anti-aging clinic. Gonzalez said in a brief statement Friday that the players’ association informed him that blood and urine tests he was given two days after last month’s report came back clean . . . Johan Santana’s first spring training appearance for the Mets was pushed back until mid-March. The lefthander does not have any structural damage in his throwing shoulder, but needs more time to build up strength . . . The Cardinals put ace Chris Carpenter on the 60-day disabled list because of irritation in his spine and right shoulder. GM John Mozeliak, who has said he doesn’t expect the 37-year-old Carpenter to pitch at all this season, said the move gave the team roster flexibility.

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