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After missing most of '12, Rivera returns to form

TORONTO -- After missing the majority of the 2012 season following season-ending surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right knee, 43-year-old Mariano Rivera has picked up right where he left off.

The Yankees closer is 5-for-5 in save opportunities and hasn't allowed a run since his first appearance of the season. Rivera was in top form for Saturday's extra-inning win against the Blue Jays, working around a leadoff double to close out the 11th inning by punching out two batters and recording the other out on a line drive.

Manager Joe Girardi said the only thing he wouldn't do with Rivera is pitch him three days in a row this early -- he has worked back-to-back games once -- but is otherwise not worried about the veteran's health.

"They have had a lot of success with knee operations and anterior cruciate ligament tears," Girardi said. "I don't really have any concerns about his knee; he passed all those tests in Spring Training."

That doesn't mean Girardi isn't impressed with what Rivera, the all-time saves leader with 613, is able to do in his 19th big league season.

"Am I a little bit surprised that he is still pitching at a high level at this age? Yeah, but not that he has come back," the skipper said.

Rivera only needs to make three appearances and pitch 2 1/3 more innings to match his workload from last season.

Chris Toman is a contributor to
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