Mariano Rivera said that his surgically repaired right knee is close to completely healed, and the closer expects to have a normal Spring Training workload.

"It's not 100 percent. It would be, I would say, 95 percent," Rivera said. "By the time Spring Training starts, it'll feel 100 percent."

Rivera, 43, tore his right anterior cruciate ligament while chasing fly balls in batting practice in Kansas City last May, ending his season.

The all-time saves leader quickly put aside thoughts of retirement following the injury, vowing to go out on his own terms. He expects to resume throwing in about a week, which is earlier than he usually would be on a mound.

"It needs more strengthening. The five percent will come quick," he promised.

Rivera appeared in Connecticut on Saturday morning to conduct a pitching clinic with about 150 children at the Frozen Ropes baseball academy.

The three-hour event was attended by some students from Sandy Hook Elementary School in nearby Newtown, where a gunman killed 26 and wounded two on the morning of Dec. 14.

"We didn't try to get into it," he said. "We just tried to run it smooth and make sure they were comfortable. There were a few kids from there, and we want to make sure we made them feel comfortable and not try to treat them differently. I think that was for the best."