Mariano, Jeter make successful spring debuts
Closer strikes out two in perfect inning; captain singles as designated hitter
TAMPA, Fla. -- Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera made their Spring Training debuts on Saturday, but the Yankees fell, 2-1, to the Braves at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
Coming back from offseason surgery on his left ankle, Jeter went 1-for-2 with a sharp single to left field as the Yankees' designated hitter. Rivera, who announced his decision to retire after the 2013 season Saturday morning, tossed a perfect fifth inning in which he struck out Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson, both looking.
The Braves scored their first run in the seventh inning, when Tyler Pastornicky tripled to left-center field and scored on Dan Uggla's two-out single to center off Francisco Rondon. They added an insurance run in the ninth on Jordan Parraz's sacrifice fly.
Left-hander Mike Minor got the start for the Braves, spinning four shutout innings during which he allowed only three hits and two walks. The first hit came on Minor's first pitch of the game, a leadoff single by Jeter in his first plate appearance since Game 1 of the 2012 American League Championship Series.
"It was right down the middle," Jeter said. "He must've felt sorry for me."
The Yankees, meanwhile, started right-hander Jose Ramirez, ranked by MLB.com as the club's No. 13 prospect. Ramirez gave up just one hit and struck out four in four innings. Ramirez was followed by Rivera, who induced a pop fly to second base from Uggla, then fanned Francisco and Johnson to wrap up a 15-pitch inning.
"It was good to be back on the mound. I won't take it for granted," Rivera said. "It's been almost a year that I haven't been on the mound in a real game, so it felt real good, pushing off the leg good. I wasn't holding anything [back]."
Up next: The Yankees will travel to Dunedin on Sunday to play the Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander David Phelps (1-1, 1.00 ERA) will make his fourth start of the spring against Toronto lefty J.A. Happ (1-0, 3.00 ERA). Among the notable names making that trip are outfielders Brett Gardner, Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, infielders Kevin Youkilis, Dan Johnson and Jayson Nix and catchers Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine.