KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Mariano Rivera sat on a chair in the corner of the visitor’s clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium, his right knee tightly wrapped Friday night and crutches resting against a nearby locker.

In one declarative statement, the Yankees’ closer put to rest any notion that he’d shuffle off into retirement after a devastating injury sustained the previous night in batting practice.

“I’m coming back. Write it down in big letters. I’m not going out like this,” Rivera said.

The 12-time All-Star vowed he will return to the mound by 2013, despite hinting in spring training that this season may be his last. He said he reflected on the injury at his hotel room in the wee hours of Friday morning before making his decision.

“I love to play the game. To me, I don’t think going out like this is the right way,” Rivera said. “I don’t want to retire because I got hurt in the way that it happened. I don’t think like that. With the strength of the Lord, I just have to continue.”

Rivera hurt his knee when his foot caught on the turf near the outfield wall before the series opener against Kansas City. An MRI taken during the game revealed the extent of the injury, and Rivera dabbed tears from his eyes when he spoke in the clubhouse Thursday night.

He wasn’t sure at the time whether he would return.

He was certain of it less than 24 hours later.

“Miracles happen,” Rivera said with a smile. “I’m a positive man. The only thing is that I feel sorry I let down my teammates. Besides that I’m OK.”

Rivera spoke with New York Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek, who performed surgery on his shoulder following the 2008 season and was told that he should be ready to work out again in about five months. Rivera hopes that allows him to pitch by the start of spring training.

“You know, I just kind of had a feeling in talking to him last night that it wasn’t the way he wants to go out,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “He still has to get through this rehab and we’ll see where he’s at, but Mo wants to do things on his own terms, and determine when he’s done, and I don’t think he wanted to be done because of an injury.”

Rivera remained with the team Friday night in Kansas City. He plans to return to New York this weekend before consulting with Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad.

Rivera said he was touched by the outpouring of support he received after the injury. There was even a bouquet of flowers in the empty locker that adjoined his in the clubhouse.

“He’s special,” Red Sox Manager Bobby Valentine said in Boston. “Hopefully he’ll come back, even though he’s with the bad guys.”

Royals Manager Ned Yost called Rivera “one of a kind,” while Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon referred to him as the “godfather” of their role.

“It’s just kind of tough to put into words,” Papelbon said. “It’s just tough to see your leader, your idol — it’s hard to even comprehend it or talk about it.”

Rivera had lunch with Alex Rodriguez on Friday and spoke with Derek Jeter in front of the captain’s locker when they arrived at the ballpark. He planned to address the rest of the team before Friday night’s game against the Royals.

“We need him around and we need his presence and his leadership,” A-Rod said. “He promised me that he’s going to be around as much as possible and I’m going to hold him up to that.”

Jeter simply shrugged when he was asked about Rivera making a comeback, pointing out that he knew all along that his close friend of some 20 years would never be forced into retirement.

“Regardless of when he decides to retire or slow down, I think we’re going to remember him for everything that he’s done,” Jeter said. “People aren’t going to remember him for this. It’s an unfortunate incident. Whenever he decides to do it, it’s going to be the same story.”