Feb 25, 2021

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

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.

Mets Minor Leagues: 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.

In March, he got to play the Cuban National team with Tampa. He was released in Spring Training, then signed with 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.


Mets Career: 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. On July 19th as 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. 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 won the wild card spot.


With the Mets catching woes of 2016, Rivera was a great pickup for New York. He hit 6 HRs with 4 doubles & 26 RBIs while batting .222. He caught 59 games behind the plate throwing out 27% of would be base stealers.

2016 Post Season- Wild Card Game: Rivera got one of just four hits off Madison Bumgarner in the Mets 3-0 loss to the Giants.

In 2017 he began the year with Mets, and got hot in May. On May 3rd he had three hits & drove in three runs in a 16-5 Mets win over Atlanta. 

The next day, he drove in the first run, in the Mets five run 7th inning, as they came from behind to beat the Marlins 8-7. In the middle of the month he drove in runs in four straight games, getting his average up to .320. He had a good month driving in 12 runs.

On June 25th, he hit two HRs & drove in three runs in a Mets 8-2 win at San Francisco, over the Giants. By August the Mets, were under .500 and pretty much out of the playoff picture. Rivera hit a HR in the August 16th subway series, which turned out to be his last Mets game. 

Post Mets Career: He was placed on waivers & then picked up by the Chicago Cubs for their
pennant run. The Cubs won the NLDS but lost to the LA Dodgers in the NLCS.

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

Return to Mets: Return to the Mets: 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 a pennant race. Rene made his first return start on August 25th. On September 2nd, he had two hits & drove in a run against the Nats. 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 win. The Mets swept the Braves but narrowly missed the post season. In nine games he hit .235.

In 2020 he signed another minor league deal with the Mets & got into two games.

Career Stats: In a twelve year career, he is a .221 hitter, with 41 HRs  62 doubles & 167 RBIs in 517 career games. He has thrown out 36% of would be base stealers & posted a .992 fielding % in 481 games behind the plate.

Family:
Rene is married to Mariel Perez, who's
father is a founding member of the El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico, salsa orchestra. They have two twin daughters. 

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