Tampa, Fla. - Mariano Rivera had a speech to get through on Saturday morning, and an inning to navigate on Saturday afternoon.
Both events were handled flawlessly, though there was a moment when the Yankees' celebrated closer nearly buckled.
"What almost got me was seeing my whole team there," Rivera said of the moment when Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte led the entire camp's roster into the pavilion at Steinbrenner Field to hear Rivera officially say that 2013 would be his final season.
A few hours later, Rivera projected the familiar look of an elite pitcher in his prime - striking out two of the three Atlanta Braves he faced in his first game action since April 30 of last season.
"It's so much. Overwhelming. But it's great, it's wonderful," Rivera said of a day that included two standing ovations at Steinbrenner Field. "I can't ask for more than that."
With his wife, Clara, and two of his three sons by his side, Rivera told an audience that included Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman that Saturday wasn't a sad day for him.
"I did everything within my power to enjoy the game, to do it well, to respect (it)," Rivera said. "No one can take that joy away from me."
At age 43, Rivera simply tired of the grind before his arm tired of spinning cut-fastballs - the signature pitcher that propelled him atop baseball's all-time saves list.
"I have just a few bullets left and I'm going to use them well this year," said Rivera, who included a playful dig at Pettitte's comeback from retirement last year. Rivera said he won't be swayed back.
"You won't see me on the field unless I'm doing something else but playing baseball."
Already, Rivera plans to tutor the organization's minor-league pitchers next year, something he's done each camp.
"He's always been a giver," Cashman said. "He's going to be harder to replace in that clubhouse as much as on that field."
On Saturday, Rivera's first live game appearance since last year's season-ending right knee surgery lasted 15 pitches.
He got Dan Uggla to pop out on a 3-1 pitch, and struck out both Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson looking at 2-2 cutters.
As good as he felt, "I wanted to cover first base, (get) some action," said Rivera, who suffered a torn ACL last May 3 while chasing a batting-practice fly ball.
Rivera said he would've retired after the 2012 season if not for that injury. Cashman knew of those plans, as did Jeter and Pettitte. About 10 days ago, Rivera informed Girardi that an official announcement would be coming soon.
It's the mental wear, not the physical toll that has led to this goodbye.
"(There's) a lot of dead time (in season), and it's a lot of work to get back to what we would call midseason form," Pettitte said. "It's a lot of work starting in November and building it up until opening day."
In a statement, Jorge Posada said he was glad Rivera would go out on his terms.
"Now every time he steps into a ballpark this year, teams and fans can celebrate and appreciate what he has meant," Posada said, while Alex Rodriguez spoke of Rivera as "a class act and a great human being" in his statement.
But Rivera wanted to keep Saturday's proceedings light and opened his press conference with a gag, thanking Cashman for granting him a two-year extension.
Later, Cashman recalled a preseason powwow in 1996, when front-office personnel had to convince owner George Steinbrenner not to deal Rivera or Bob Wickman to Seattle for shortstop Felix Fermin - seen then as insurance against Derek Jeter being a rookie flop.
Recent Yankees history "could've changed drastically if a mistake was made there," Cashman said, seven pennants and five world championships later.
What began in the early '90s as minor leaguers has formed an indelible bond. "We'll always be friends," Jeter said. "Because we've been through so much."
Before he left the pavilion, Rivera told his assembled teammates to enjoy the game to its fullest "because you don't know when it will be the last time.
"I've been thankful for every minute that I've worn this uniform."