SEATTLE -- Mariano Rivera continued his season-long "Mo-ment of Thanks" tour on Friday with about a dozen young Mariners staffers at Safeco Field, located in a city that the future Hall of Famer very nearly called home.
The group of high schoolers and college students was wowed to hear that in spring 1996, Yankees principal owner George M. Steinbrenner was uncertain about young Derek Jeter and suggested that his baseball personnel work on a trade with the Mariners for light-hitting shortstop Felix Fermin.
In exchange, Seattle would have had their choice of either pitcher Bob Wickman or Rivera. It was only at the insistence of then general manager Bob Watson and assistant Brian Cashman that Rivera remained in pinstripes; Fermin had just 16 more big league at-bats in his future while Rivera and Jeter both marched toward the Hall of Fame.
"We're doing this to be able to say thank you for what you guys do in baseball," Rivera said. "It doesn't matter if you're a Yankees fan or not. I do respect that. What's important is that you are baseball fans."
The 43-year-old Rivera said that his hope is that meetings like Friday's can motivate and inspire the young Mariners employees to be successful and overcome the challenges that are in their futures.
"The job isn't easy," Rivera said. "If you want to do something, you have to know what are your tools and what do you need to be successful with what you face out there.
"We're all going to fail at one point. It's what we do when we struggle. You can take that as a failure or as a stepping stone to get better."
Rivera is planning to conduct similar visits in each city the Yankees visit this season, and has already met with longtime fans and employees in several stadiums around the league.
"I'm not surprised," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Mo is as humble a guy as you're ever going to be around, and I think he's very thankful for his time around the big leagues and what the fans have meant to the game. He's appreciative and he just wants to give back."
Wang granted his release by Yankees
SEATTLE -- Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang exercised an out clause in his Yankees Minor League contract on Friday and was granted his release.
Wang, 33, was 4-4 with a 2.33 ERA in nine starts spanning 58 innings at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and is reportedly close to signing a Major League deal with the Blue Jays, according to FOXSports.com.
"His numbers were good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "His velocity was down a little bit. We had a lot of 87s and 88s [mph], I think, and at this time we just didn't really have space for him."
Wang allowed 57 hits with two home runs, 10 walks and 25 strikeouts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
He also had April 30 and May 31 out clauses in his contract with the Yankees but said he would not trigger them unless a big league opportunity presented itself. The Blue Jays are reportedly looking to have Wang start on Tuesday against the White Sox.
• The Yankees are looking forward to the reports from Michael Pineda's first Minor League rehabilitation start on Saturday for Class A Tampa against the Tigers' Florida State League club in Lakeland, Fla.
Girardi said that the Yankees would like to see Pineda throw 90 to 100 pitches more than once in the Minor Leagues before considering him for promotion. Girardi said that the Yankees envision Pineda as a starter in the immediate future.
• On this date in 1936, George Selkirk hit a walk-off home run off the Indians' Oral Hildebrand in the 16th inning to give the Yankees a 5-4 win. Red Ruffing tossed a complete game to earn the win, pitching 16 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on 10 hits with six walks.