Rene Rivera: Thor's Favorite Mets Back Up Catcher: (2016-2017 / 2019-2020)

Rene Rivera was born July 31st, 1983, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. 

In 2001 the five-foot ten right hand hitting catcher was signed out of high school as a second-round pick of the Seattle Mariners. Rivera was never known for his hitting but as a solid defensive backstop.

MLB Career: Rene spent four seasons in the minor leagues getting a 2004 cup of coffee in two games for the Mariners. In 2005 he spent most of the season with AA San Antonio & AAA Tacoma but had two separate callups in June & September for 16 games at the big league.

In 2006, Rene was catcher Kenji Jojima's back up getting into 35 games with the Mariners, 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 more. At the end of the season, he was granted free agency & signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

In 2008 he played n the Dodgers minor leagues where he did hit better (.250).  But after the season he was granted free agency & signed with the New York Mets.

Mets Minor Leagues: In 2009 Rene spent the season with the AAA Buffalo Bisons, under manager Ken Oberkfell. He was backup catcher to Robinson Cancel, catching 74 games batting .234 with 9 HRs 34 RBIs & throwing out 27% of would-be base stealers. 

He moved on & over the next few years signed with the A.L. New York then the Minnesota Twins. In 2010 he also played Independent Baseball at Camden New Jersey.

In 2011 he returned to the big leagues, seeing action in 45 games with the Twins behind Joe Mauer. Behind the plate, Rene threw out 40% of would-be base stealers posting a .988 fielding % but he hit just .211. 

After another full year at AAA, he was let go to free agency & was signed by the San Diego Padres.

Rene spent two seasons in limited action with the Padres, as he threw out 56%
of would-be base stealers & posted a perfect 1.000 field %earning him the chance to get noticed defensively keeping him in the big leagues. 

In 2014 he was the Padres Opening Day catcher, getting that honor for the first time in his career. 

Multi 5 Rbi Game: On April 28th in San Francisco, Rene blasted a three run HR & two run
double, both off the Giants Madison Bumgarner, driving in a career high five runs in the 6-4 win. 

Walk Off Hit:
On August 27th, with the Padres down 2-1 in the 9th inning, Rene tied up the game with a HR off the Brewers Francisco Rodriguez. Later in the bottom of the 10th, he singled off Zack Duke driving in the walk off game winning run.

From September 20th to September 28th, he had three multi RBI games & drove in eight runs. 

That year he 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 & a .751 OPS. At catcher, 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).

At the end of the season the Padres traded both Rivera & Grandal in a three-team deal, sending Rivera to the Tampa Rays. There he won over the main catcher's spot & would play in 110 games that season. 

He batted .178 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs. Rene was also the personal catcher for Chris Archer who started the most games in the AL (34) going 12-13 with a 3.23 ERA.

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 %. Rene also played seven games at first base. In two games against the Mets that season he was 1-5 with a walk. That March, he got to play the Cuban National team with Tampa. 

Mets Career: He was released in Spring Training, then signed with the New York Mets with a minor league deal, for veteran insurance. It was a good signing as he was soon called up to replace Travis d'Arnaud who went on the 15-day DL with a rotator cuff strain.

On April 30th, Rivera debuted with the Mets in a 6-5 win against the San Francisco Giants. 

On May 4th, in his second start on a rainy matinee that centerfieldmaz attended, Rene contributed with his first Mets HR, a two-run shot off Atlanta's Jhoulys Chancin in an 8-0 Steven Matz combined shut out.

That month Rene had RBI's in two one run Mets victories, the first a 3-2 win over Milwaukee. On May 25th he had an RBI single in another Steve Matz shutout in a 2-0 win in Washington over the Nats. 

In June Rene drove in runs in six of 12 games, with two multi-RBI games, although he was still struggling batting just .182. 

Thor's Personal Catcher: As the season went on, Rivera was handling the pitching staff well & he became Noah Syndergaard's favorite backstop. Syndergaard went 14-9 that season with a 2.60 ERA. Rivera caught Noah's last 15 starts from July onward.

On July 3rd he homered & drove in three runs in the Mets 14-2 romp over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. 

On July 19th when the Mets went to Wrigley Field, Rivera's base hit RBI in the top of the 9th inning off Hector Rondon proved to be the game winning run. 

In August he had a three-game stretch where he drove in runs in each game. On August 25, he drove in two runs in a 10-6 Mets win at St. Louis. 

In September he was brought in as a late inning defensive replacement when he wasn't starting, as the Mets were chasing & eventually won the wild card spot.

In 2016, with the Mets catching problems of d'Arnaud's injury, Rivera was a great pickup for New York. 

He shared time with Kevin Plawecki & caught 59 games behind the plate throwing out 27% of
would-be base stealers, making just two errors & posting a .996 fielding %.

He hit 6 HRs with 4 doubles & 26 RBIs batting .222 with a .632 OPS. 

2016 Post Season- Wild Card Game: Rivera got the start in the NL Wild Card game, since Syndergaard was the starting pitcher. Rivera got one of just four hits off Madison Bumgarner in the Mets 3-0 Mets loss to the Giants. 

In that game he threw out Dernard Spam attempting to steal.

2017: Rivera began the year with Mets & started off well. In April he hit .250 having three multi-hit games, including a HR in the Mets horrific 23-5 loss to the Nationals.

In May he batted .307 for the month, starting out with a ten-game hit streak, driving in runs in six of those games.

On May 3rd he had three hits & drove in three runs in a 16-5 Mets win over Atlanta. In his next game he helped the Mets in a four-run comeback against the Marlins, diving in the first run of the five-run 7th inning. 

Rene drove in runs in four straight games, getting his average up to .320. & driving in 12 runs in the month.

Multi HR Game: On June 25th, in an 8-2 win over the Giants in San Francisco, Rivera hit two HRs off Matt Moore collecting three RBIs.

By August the Mets, were under .500 and pretty much out of the playoff picture. On August 16th, Rivera hit a HR in a subway series game, which turned out to be his last Mets game. Rivera was batting .230 with 8 HRs & 23 RBIs after 54 games. He was placed on waivers & picked up by the Chicago Cubs for their pennant run. 

Post Mets Career: Rene played twenty games for The first place Cubs & the new environment had him hit .320.

2017 Post Season: Rene did not play in the post season. In the NLDS the Cubs beat the Nationals but lost to the LA Dodgers in the NLCS.

In 2018 Rivera played for the Anaheim Angels in 30 games & then the Atlanta Braves for three games at the end of the year.

Return to Mets- 2019: In March of 2019 he signed a minor league deal with the Mets. At AAA Syracuse, he hit 25 HRs & drove in 73 runs while batting .254 in 98 games. 

That August, he was called up by the Mets, as they were back in the heat of another pennant race. 

On August 25th Rene made his first return start catching Steven Matz in a 2-1 loss to the Braves. On September 2nd, he collected a pair of hits & drove in a run in a 7-2 win over the Nat's. 

On September 28th, he & Pete Alonso both homered off the Braves Mike Foltynewicz in the 3rd inning, helping Steven Matz & the bullpen in a 3-0 shut out. The Mets swept the Braves in the important series but narrowly missed the post season. 

In nine games Rene hit .235 (4-17) with three RBIs.

2020: This year he signed another minor league deal with the Mets & got into two games in July. But his season ended when he needed surgery on his left elbow. At the end of the year he was granted free agency.

Post Mets Career: In 2021 Rene would play 21 games with Cleveland & four games with Washington. In 2023 he announced his retirement.

Career Stats:
In a twelve-year career, Rivera batted .221 with 330 hits 62 doubles 2 triples 43 HRs & 167 RBIs in 517 career games. He struck out 446 times with 93 walks, a .273on base & .627 OPS.

Defensively he threw out 36% of would-be base stealers & posted a .992 fielding % in 481 games behind the plate. He made 35 errors in 4014 chances, turned 31 double plays & had 277 assists.

Family: Rene is a happy family man, married to Mariel (Perez). Mariel's father is a founding member of the El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, salsa Orchestra. Rene & Mariel have two twin daughters. 

Retirement: Rene is a coach in the MLB Draft League.


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