NEW YORK – The great Mariano Rivera is getting set to close his career.

The New York Yankees’ reliever plans to announce this weekend that he will retire after the 2013 season, a person familiar with the decision said Thursday.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official statement. A news conference was called for Saturday.

Rivera, 43, is baseball’s saves leader with 608. He is regarded as one of the best clutch pitchers in history, posting a record 42 postseason saves with an 0.70 ERA while helping the Yankees win five World Series championships.

“Greatest closer of all time. No question in my mind,” Manager Joe Girardi said. “I’ve had the thrill of catching him. I was there when he really burst onto the scene as a dominant setup man, then to see what he did as a closer has been a thrill.

“It’s really hard to imagine that anyone could do the job he did. At times it seemed like it wasn’t fair. That’s how good Mo was. He was so dominant.”

Rivera missed most of last season after he tore a ligament in his right knee while catching fly balls during batting practice. He was hurt May 3 and had surgery the next month.

“I can’t say it surprises me,” former Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “I think he was sort of in-between last year, before he got hurt. It didn’t surprise me he wanted to come back, just based on who he is and what he represents.”

Rivera returned home to Panama this week for a personal matter and is expected to rejoin the team Saturday.

Hank Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ co-chairman, said he would like Rivera to remain involved with the team.

“If he wants to, that would be my preference,” Steinbrenner said.

“I think he’d be a great influence even if it’s only at spring training.”

There was a good chance Rivera would pitch in an exhibition game Saturday for the first time this spring. He typically goes at his own pace in camp, fine-tuning his dreaded cut fastball in the bullpen and in simulated games.

“You only need one finger with him, so if I get four cut off we are still good to go,” Yankees catcher Chris Stewart said.

“Having a guy out there who knows where he’s going to throw it every single time, you can’t ask for better than that. And then to have a guy with one of the best pitches in the game, it makes my job easy. If you have the lead after eight, there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to get a win.”

Minus Rivera, the Yankees still won the AL East last year with Rafael Soriano moving into the closer role.

Soriano left after the season as a free agent and signed with Washington.

CARDINALS: Shortstop Rafael Furcal will have major surgery on his right elbow next week.

Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso homered as St. Louis beat the New York Yankees 7-6 at Jupiter, Fla.

WHITE SOX: The team agreed on a five-year, $32.5 million contract with left-handed starter Chris Sale.

Paul Konerko hit two home runs and Adam Dunn added a two-run shot in an 8-3 victory against the Chicago Cubs at Mesa, Ariz.

INDIANS: Outfielder Michael Brantley signd a one-year contract.

Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi hit back-to-back homers off Heath Hembree, powering Cleveland to a 6-4 victory against San Francisco at Goodyear, Ariz.

MARINERS: Felix Hernandez allowed one run and two hits over two innings in his spring-training debut, and Stefen Romero homered twice and had seven RBI as a Seattle split-squad pounded Kansas City 12-2 at Surprise, Ariz., ending the Royals’ 11-game winning streak.

BREWERS: Khris Davis hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning, his third straight game with a homer, and Milwaukee rallied to beat Arizona 4-3 at Phoenix.

RANGERS: Adrian Beltre hit his first home run this spring and Texas wound up in an 11-11 tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz.

ANGELS: C.J. Wilson allowed one run and six hits in three innings in his second spring start, and the Los Angeles Angels topped San Diego 12-3 at Peoria, Ariz.

RAYS: Alex Cobb pitched one-hit ball for four scoreless innings as Tampa Bay defeated Pittsburgh 4-2 at Bradenton, Fla.