TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -Yankees closer Mariano Rivera is scheduled to throw off a bullpen mound Friday and is not expected to make his first spring training appearance until next Wednesday at the earliest.
The 38-year-old Rivera has taken a slow approach in preparing for game action the past few years. He will throw around nine or 10 innings before the team breaks camp.
``There's no rush for Mariano, just like every spring,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday. ``Mo knows exactly what he's doing with his body. No one knows his body better than he does. He just takes it slow.''
Rivera has 443 saves, the third most in baseball history.
``Arm strength is the important thing, and he's doing great in his long toss,'' Girardi said. ``He'll be ready March 31.''
Rivera will likely throw on back-to-back days once near the end of spring training.
In other news, Girardi said Hideki Matsui, who had right knee surgery last November, could be ready to DH in about 10 days.
``He's doing great,'' Girardi said.
Matsui could see time at DH and left field this season.
The Yankees open the exhibition season Friday against South Florida. Starter Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy are scheduled to throw two innings each. Phil Hughes and Kei Igawa are among a group of pitchers slated to work one inning apiece.
Yankees special assistant to the general manager Tino Martinez is also a volunteer assistant coach at South Florida, where in brother-in-law Lelo Prado is the head coach. He will spent time in both dugouts.
Martinez hopes the game will become a regular event for South Florida.
``This game is huge, not only for the players, but for recruiting in the future,'' Martinez said. ``Most of the guys on our team, one or two may have a shot at major league baseball, but just to play on the same field as these guys, Jeter, A-Rod, it's a great thrill for them. It will be a lot of fun.''
Notes: Hall of Famer and spring training instructor Yogi Berra arrived at camp. ... RHP Chien-Ming Wang, the expected opening day starter, will pitch Saturday against Philadelphia.

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