Rene Rivera was born July 31st 1983, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. The five foot ten right hand hitting catcher was signed out of high school as a second round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2001. Rivera is not known for his hitting but is known as a solid veteran defensive backstop.
He spent four seasons in the minor leagues getting a cup of coffee in 2004 in two games for the Mariners. After spending 2005 at AA San Antonio & AAA Tacoma he played 16 games at the big league level for the Mariners. He spent all of 2006 with the Mariners as Kenji Johjima's back up getting into 35 games but hitting just .152 with 2 HRs & 4 RBIs in 99 at bats.
In 2007 the Mariners kept him in the minors to learn better defensive skills & hoping he would hit. At the end of the season he was granted free agency & signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers getting back to the AAA level at Las Vegas. But once again he was granted free agency & signed with the New York Mets.
He spent 2009 with the Mets AAA Buffalo Bisons under manager Ken Oberkfell, as back up to Robinson Cancel, catching 74 games batting .234 with 9 HRs 34 RBIs & throwing out 27% of would be base stealers. Again he was granted free agency signed with the A.L. New York club then Minnesota Twins all in 2010. That year he also played Independent Baseball at Camden New Jersey.
He saw some action behind Joe Mauer in Minnesota (44 games) throwing out 40% of would be base stealers with a .988 fielding % but hit just .211. He again was let go to free agency & was signed by the San Diego Padres.
In limited action he threw out 56% of would be base stealers & posted a perfect 1.000 field %earning him the chance to get noticed & remain in the big leagues. In 2014 he was the Padres Opening Day catcher, getting that honor for the first time in his career. On April 28th he blasted a three run HR & drove in a career high five runs helping beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4. In August he tied up a game in the 9th inning with a HR & then won the game with a walk off single.
That year was the Padres main catcher (103 games) sharing time with Yasmani Grandal who also played at first base. Rivera hit 11 HRs with 18 doubles & 44 RBIs while batting .252. He threw out 36.3% of base stealers (4th best in the NL) had 66 assists (5th best in the NL) & turned seven double plays (5th most) while committing 8 errors (5th most).
But at the end of the season the Padres went a different ways & traded both Rivera & Grandal in a three team deal, landing Rivera in Tampa with the Rays. He won over the main catchers spot but hit just .178 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs in 110 games played. He was also the personal catcher for Chris Archer.
His defense was still solid throwing out 37% of base stealers making 60 assists turning 5 double plays & making 11 errors with a .987 fielding %. He even played seven games at first base. In two games against the Mets last season he was 1-5 with a walk.
He got to play the Cuban National team with Tampa in March but was released in Spring Training & signed again by the New York Mets with a minor league deal, for veteran insurance. That came to be a good signing as he was called up to replace Travis d'Arnaud who went on the 15 day DL with a rotator cuff strain.
Rivera debuted with the Mets on April 30th in a 6-5 win against the San Francisco Giants. In his second start a rainy matinee that centerfieldmaz attended, he contributed with his first Mets HR, in a four HR, 8-0 Steven Matz Mets shutout. That month he had RBI's in two Mets games, a 3-2 win over Milwaukee & a 2-0 shutout against the Washington Nats. In June he had RbI's in six of 12 games, with two multi RBI games, but was struggling batting just .182. He handled the pitching staff well & became Noah Syndergaard's favorite backstop.
On July 3rd he homered & drove in three runs in the Mets 14-2 romp over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. He would collect ten hits through June raising his average to .234 a 52 point increase. With the Mets catching woes of 2016, Rivera was a great pickup for New York.
Through July 2016 he is a lifetime .263 hitter, with 24 HRs 48 doubles & 109 RBIs in 364 career games. He has thrown out 38% of would be base stealers & posted a .989 fieling % in 343 games behind the plate.