Nathan appreciates the praise thrown his way by Mariano

Published: 2:00 AM – 04/07/11

NEW YORK — Over the years, as Joe Nathan evolved into one of baseball’s top closers, he has spoken glowingly of Mariano Rivera.

Nathan is as impressed with Rivera’s classy demeanor as he his with his killer cut fastball and World Series rings with the Yankees. As it turns out, Rivera, considered by many to be baseball’s greatest closer, has a lot of respect for Nathan.

Speaking about Nathan’s return to Minnesota after missing all of last year due to elbow surgery, Rivera had nothing but high praise on Wednesday.

“I love him, I love him,” said Rivera, whose 562 saves trail only Trevor Hoffman’s 601. “Joe is a great guy, a great human being, a great athlete. Seeing him back out there, battling out there, I like that. Joe respects the game, he respects players. He does what is right for baseball. The times I’ve talked with him have always been great.”

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