Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was all smiles after throwing 18 pitches Thursday in his first simulated game since knee surgery last spring.

"I feel good," Rivera said in Tampa., Fla. "I feel real good. Getting stronger and stronger."

The 43-year old pitched one inning against Yankees' minor leaguers. He also fielded and covered first base.

"That's what I wanted to do, field some bunts, go after some balls in between first and the mound," Rivera said.

The 12-time all-star pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery June 12.

"He's throwing the ball right where he wants to, and to be able to do that in February is amazing," Yankees ace CC Sabathia said.

Sabathia, likely to start the season opener against Boston on April 1, threw 46 pitches over two innings during his initial simulated game. The lefthander had offseason surgery on bone spurs in his left elbow.

"No problems," Sabathia said. "Feel good. Threw everything, so I'm excited. I felt better today just commanding the baseball. I'll keep working, and hopefully get better each time out. I'm excited I don't have that little pain in there anymore."

A real pain

Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus was scratched because of what the club called "sensitivity in his left arm" - apparently caused by a tattoo.

Andrus spent nine hours over the two days before Thursday's spring training game against the Indians under a needle. He wanted a likeness of his father, Emilo Andrus, who died in 1996 when Elvis was 7.

Andrus told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he'll be ready to play Friday. The tattoo covers most of Andrus' left arm from the elbow to shoulder. It will apparently be his last. "I'm done with this, too much pain," he said.

Andrus will leave the Rangers on Saturday to join Venezuela for the World Baseball Classic.

Giant sidelined

San Francisco outfielder Andres Torres won't play for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and will be sidelined for at least a week because of a strained muscle in his side.

Torres was hurt during a swing and had an MRI exam. - Associated Press